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Giro flags stolen but Richhill still on ‘high’

The Giro d'Italia caravan in Richhill on Sunday as part of the cyclists' advance team. Pic by Shirley Houghton.INPT20-120

The Giro d'Italia caravan in Richhill on Sunday as part of the cyclists' advance team. Pic by Shirley Houghton.INPT20-120

A “brilliant” day in Richhill was marred slightly by the theft of five Giro d’Italia flags from the village within 24 hours of the race passing through.

According to Dr Alan Turtle, who helped organise the highly successful day’s events, the thieves would have needed ladders to reach the flags.

He said, “They were securely fixed to the poles so whoever took them would have needed a mechanical screwdriver to unscrew them. A local roofer had put them up for us, and gave up his own time to do it.

“We bought 12 of the flags at £20 each and had promised them to schools and charities.

“As soon as we realised what was happening, we got the rest taken down quickly.”

But Dr Turtle said the incident had not overshadowed what was a truly memorable day, which saw upwards of 2,000 people pack into the village.

He said, “The atmosphere and the feel-good factor were second-to-none. The police and the marshalls thought the crowds were brilliant to work with and I have been getting a lot of compliments from the cycling community through local cyclist Stephen Gallagher.”

People began gathering as early as 7.30 for the event, with the caravan passing through at 10.30 and the bikes at 12.15.

The crowd was kept entertained musically in the interval by the South Ulster Concert Band, Hamiltonsbawn Folk group, a brass ensemble from Richhill School of Music, eight pipers from Marlacoo Pipe Band and the “crowing glory” of two Lambeg drums.

Said Dr Turtle, “They usually cycle through the Alps to the sound of cow bells but in Richhill it was the Lambeg drums!

“I have been told that the cyclists and the team thought Richhill was amazing. I have been amazed at the number of messages of congratulations from the cycling community and the general public.

“The bikes were very impressive -they were whizzing past at an amazing speed and they got round the awful corner at the bottom of Irish Street incident-free - but they were probably secondary to the way people came together and had a really good day.”

 

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