THE streets of Newtown were packed with cheering fans as the Tour of Britain received a rapturous send-off from Mid Wales.

Hundreds of school children were among the thousands of people who descended on the town on Tuesday to catch a glimpse of some of international cycling’s biggest stars.

The start-line for Stage Three of this year’s Tour was on High Street in Newtown with the chairman of Powys County Council, Roche Davies, and Newtown Mayor Rina Clarke taking the honour of waving the starting flag.

Thousands of visitors had earlier joined with locals in waiting for photographs or autographs with the star cyclists, including Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, as the teams set up in Back Lane Car Park.

Councillor Clarke said she was thrilled to see so many people out enjoying the event.

She said: “It was a showcase for Newtown at its best, and it shows we can do events like this to the Tour and the Welsh Government – Newtown can put on a first rate international event.

“The street looked absolutely fantastic and there were so many people out enjoying and supporting it. 

“It was wonderful to see the schoolchildren here and the youngsters from Hafren Cycling Club, it was just a wonderful day for the town.”

Newtown Football Club defender Craig Williams was among the spectators and he said it was great to see top sports stars in the town.

He said: “It is brilliant. It is good for the town and it has brought a lot of people and some famous names here. Hopefully it will get a lot more people cycling too.”

Pupils from several Newtown schools were there to cheer on the riders and Carl Hyde, headteacher at Treowen Primary School, said it was a unique opportunity for the youngsters.

He said: “It is great for them to see international sports stars like Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish. They are huge names and it’s a wonderful opportunity for them.”

He added: “I just think it is great for the town to be getting something like this – an international event. 

“Usually Wales and Mid Wales can get a little forgotten about so it is great to have the tour in the town. 

“You can see how much people are enjoying it by the amount that have turned out and the way they have embraced it.”

Sian Davies, headteacher at Ysgol Dafydd Llwyd, said her pupils had been cheering on their classmate Max Bufton who was one of the Hafren Juniors selected to lead out the main riders.

She said: “It was great for us to see him at the beginning of the race and it is a great opportunity for the children. 

“It is lovely that it is held in Newtown and the local schools can come and take part and support it.”