Thousands of people turned out to see the countdown to the Tour de France launched in spectacular style.

Kirklees Council’s annual Spirit street show in Dewsbury on Saturday night was one of the Yorkshire Festival’s events marking the 100-day countdown to the Grand Depart.

A huge crane towered alongside Dewsbury Town Hall, suspending performers and singers in mid-air.

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The breath-taking free show, entitled Luce, was performed by Belgian company Theater Tol.

The show had a cycling theme and told the story of Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi, two of Italy’s greatest cyclists.

The two men famously raced against each other in the 1940s and 1950s in a series of highly-charged encounters.

Their passion, dedication and sportsmanship united a nation and Italians still argue today over who was the best.

The two cyclists were seen battling on bikes lifted 40ft into the air.

The performers wowed the audience with their hour-long aerial show which brought thousands flocking into the town centre.

 

Guest of honour at the event was Dewsbury-born veteran cyclist Brian Robinson, the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France.

Brian, now 83, lives in Mirfield. He won a stage of the Tour in 1958 and remembers racing against Bartali and Coppi.

Opening the event Mayor of Kirklees Clr Martyn Bolt said: “It is fantastic to have Brian with us. He remembers the fierce rivalry of these two riders.

The Tour de France is coming to Kirklees on July 6 and this event is only the start of what is to come.

“The world’s biggest free sporting event is coming to Yorkshire and it will be amazing.”

Throughout the day there were sculpture workshops in Dewsbury and a pop-up Indian restaurant served eat-in and takeaway curries on the night.

Clr Bolt said at least 2,000 people had attended and added: “It was breath-taking.

“I’m a keen cyclist but you wouldn’t have got me up there flying around.”

Old black and white footage of the Italian racers was also screened and Clr Bolt said: “Brian was fascinated to see that. It’s great that we can celebrate like this.”

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