Huddersfield has never seen anything like it before.

But it will again after the thrills and spills of tonight’s first ever cycle races in the town centre led to a pledge that it will become an annual event.

Thousands flocked to watch the three races involving 160 riders – and excitement was certainly growing for Sunday when the Tour de France hits town .

Known as Criterium 2014 , tonight’s town centre event featured three races.

A criterium is the name for a bike race held on a short course – usually less than a mile – held on city or town centre streets.

The first race was at 6pm. Called the Enterprise Inns Supporter Race, it lasted 45 minutes plus five laps for talented amateur riders.

Geoff Martin, 29, of Huddersfield Star Wheelers, came second.

He said: "It was a good course; there were a few dodgy corners and bumps and it was tight on Victoria Lane.

It got very slippy but the crowd spotted the local riders and gave Star Wheelers some big cheers."

Huddersfield Criterium cycle races. The first race on Cloth Hall Street.
 

Richard Creaser, 37, who lives in Dewsbury but comes from Lascelles Hall, rode for Ravensthorpe Cycling Club.

He was so keen to race in his home town that this was his first race for 15 years.

"I just trained and trained to take part," he said. "It was a race I didn't want to miss. It was getting quite greasy out there on some of the bends."

Among the spectators were Peter and Sharon Reason of Lightcliffe, and their 13-year-old daughter Charlotte.

Sharon said: "We've seen a few riders come up on Market Street but it's a great event for the town."

Peter, who is a Tourmaker in Halifax tomorrow, said: "It would be excellent if they do carry on. It's been a really good night out and draws people into Huddersfield."

The second race was the Cummins Stars of the Future Criterium for youngsters and showcased future talent and included riders from Holmfirth Cycling Club, Kirklees Cycling Academy, Clifton Cycling Club and Holme Valley Wheelers.

Huddersfield Criterium cycle races. The second race entering High Street.
 

This was 30 minutes plus five laps.

And the main race was the Grand Central Grand Prix that was for professionals and top amateurs which lasted almost 90 minutes and attracted a field of 50.

The start and finish was on Cloth Hall Street, up to Market Street and then on to High Street, down Ramsden Street and around Huddersfield Town Hall before going back on Victoria Lane and up King Street.

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Riders taking part in that included the Downing brothers, Russ and Dean, who have ridden for top continental sides.

Some had travelled from Europe and even as far as Mexico to take part.

Tracey Coldwell, a member of Holmfirth Cycling Club, which was formed after the tour in Yorkshire was announced, and already had 200 members, said: "The elite race was fast and furious. I'm really looking forward to the weekend as the atmosphere is absolutely buzzing in Holmfirth."

The first race winner was Lewis Craven from Wheelbase Altura MGD in Lancashire. Geoff Martin from Huddersfield Star Wheelers came second and Lee Brown from Holmfirth Cycling Club came third.

The second race was won by Robert Scott from PH Massey Racing from Otley, with Thomas Pidcock from Aire Valley Racing Team, Otleym, in second place, and Thomas Humphrey from Kirkles Cycling Academy in third.

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