LARGE crowds turned out to greet the Tour of Britain professional cycle race as it passed through the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean.

Stage five of the race saw the riders, including some of cycling biggest names such as Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins and Tour de France winner Mark Cavendish, on a whistle-stop tour of the area.

The stage started in Aberdare and ended in Bath with the riders taking in parts of Monmouth and the Wye Valley before crossing Bigsweir Bridge for the first ‘King of the Mountain’ challenge on the road up to Clearwell.

From Clearwell they headed through Coleford, Speech House, Cinderford, Littledean, Westbury and Minsterworth.

All along the route they were cheered on by large crowds with flags and cycling-themed decorations.

Among those who turned out were four members of the Newent-based Pink Pelican cycling group who rode to Westbury to watch the action.

Although the quartet of Lil Beach-Thomas, Julie Green, Kirsty Timothy and Miranda King have been to the Tour de France, they said it was fantastic to see the race come through the Forest.

Lil said: “We have our heroes who we like to follow: Bradley, Mark Cavendish, Chris Froom and Geraint Thomas and the women such as Laura Trott.

“We used to see very few woman cyclists but there are a lot more women out on the road now.”

The group was formed about seven years ago and meets every Thursday for rides of 30 or 40 miles.

Julie added: “Going out on the bike is a real stress buster.”