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Last Updated: Friday, 6 July 2007, 20:20 GMT 21:20 UK
Crowds turn out for Tour opening
Tour de France riders are introduced to the crowd
Tour de France fans were eager to meet the riders at Trafalgar Square
Thousands of fans gathered in Trafalgar Square for the opening ceremony of the 2007 Tour de France on Friday.

The event saw all the teams and 189 riders presented to the crowd, estimated to have been around 25,000, ahead of the Grand Depart this weekend.

The riders also paraded from Trafalgar Square down Whitehall and back, to the cheers of the crowd.

London hosts Saturday's 7.9km prologue before the first stage on Sunday which travels through the capital and Kent.

It will be the first time the Tour has started in England, but the third time it has passed through the country in its 104-year history.

Not surprisingly, some of the biggest cheers were reserved for the five British riders taking part in the race.

Londoner Bradley Wiggins, who rides for the Cofidis team, is one of the favourites for the opening prologue.

"It's amazing to be here," he told the crowd. "Anything in London of this magnitude to do with sport is fantastic to be a part of.

"You can see the stir the Tour de France has created and if a couple of people can be inspired by this then that's fantastic."

Agritubel riders meet the crowd
The public were able to get a good view of their cycling heroes

Asked whether he could add another win on Saturday following prologue victories in Dunkirk and at the Dauphine Libere, reigning world and Olympic pursuit champion added: "I will give it my best shot but this is the Tour de France, this is about as big as it gets.

"I hope to be standing on the top step on Saturday."

Tour debutant Charlie Wegelius added: "This is what I have dreamt about since I was a small boy so to start my first Tour de France in Britain is the best I could hope for."

The event, opened by Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and Tour race director Christian Prudhomme, saw youngsters and adults taking part in cycle displays on different types of bicycles as well as a live performance from singer Lemar.

Livingstone said that the capital was proud to host the "historic" event before paying tribute to the victims of the 7 July attacks in 2005.

"I cannot stand here without remembering that two years ago tomorrow morning we had a terrible incident in London, 52 Londoners died," he said.

"Tomorrow we will commemorate that - but then we will have this great event.

"It says to those who set out to divide us - you failed. You cannot divide us as Londoners. You cannot change the way we live."



SEE ALSO
Tour de France photos
06 Jul 07 |  Cycling
London set for Tour extravaganza
06 Jul 07 |  Cycling
Q&A: The Tour's first stage
06 Jul 07 |  Cycling
Yellow jersey dreaming
04 Jul 07 |  Cycling
Brits on Tour
05 Jul 07 |  Cycling
Riders back anti-doping charter
06 Jul 07 |  Cycling
Petacchi to miss Tour de France
05 Jul 07 |  Cycling
Riis to stay away from 2007 Tour
05 Jul 07 |  Cycling
Vinokourov defends Ferrari link
02 Jul 07 |  Cycling


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