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Gallery: Crowds swarm stage 3 at the Tour de France

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Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France

Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Plenty of characters and colour in London today.

Plenty of characters and colour in London today.
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France

Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France

Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Some of the fan art in England

Some of the fan art in England
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France

Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France

Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The ultimate British fan.

The ultimate British fan.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France

Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France

Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Bobbies help direct traffic

Bobbies help direct traffic
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France

Crowds on stage 3 of the Tour de France
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Even the animals were out to support the Tour de France

Even the animals were out to support the Tour de France
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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This future star got a good look at Kittel's tactics.

This future star got a good look at Kittel's tactics.
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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The Mall was buzzing with atmosphere.

The Mall was buzzing with atmosphere.
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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The light rain didn’t stop the crowds.

The light rain didn’t stop the crowds.
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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Fans waiting near Big Ben for the race.

Fans waiting near Big Ben for the race.
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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I think this guy is a British fan….

I think this guy is a British fan….
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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Front row positions for these fans.

Front row positions for these fans.
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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Happy faces all round.

Happy faces all round.
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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The publicity caravan had everyone diving for the free products.

The publicity caravan had everyone diving for the free products.
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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Waiting for the race.

Waiting for the race.
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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Tinkoff Saxo Vs Team Sky.

Tinkoff Saxo Vs Team Sky.
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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This girl had a great view from where she was.

This girl had a great view from where she was.
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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Everyone was getting all yellow.

Everyone was getting all yellow.
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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Head and shoulders above the rest.

Head and shoulders above the rest.
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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Thousands crammed in to see the finish of stage 3.

Thousands crammed in to see the finish of stage 3.
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)

The Tour de France’s Grand Départ in the United Kingdom was hailed as being the most successful start in the event’s history with spectator numbers that exceeded five million during the first three stages. Crowds of cycling fans packed the streets to watch the nearly 200 participants, again during stage 3, in what the Tour de France organizer, Christian Prudhomme has called “amazing, unforgettable, and the grandest Grand Départ ever.”

The Guardian reported that Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity has discussed with Prudhomme the return of the Tour de France to Yorkshire in the future. “I am already trying to persuade him,” Verity told The Guardian. “It’s been a perfect few days but I’m already looking at what we could have done differently and what would work even better next time. I am going to write a dossier and deliver it to Christian by the end of the week.”

Stage 3, the final stage in the UK, started in Cambridge and took the peloton on a 155km route to London, riding by the Olympic stadium, then along the River Thames, before finishing on The Mall, in front of Buckingham Palace.

It was the flattest of the three days in Britain and was almost certain to end in a bunch sprint. Fans crammed the sides of the route to watch as the peloton ripped through the capital and end the race in a bunch sprint won by Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano).

"Today was one of the best finish lines I have ever seen, with the amount of people lining the roads it was incredible, Kittel said. “It was awesome. I’m really really happy I could win in front of Buckingham Palace.”

World-class bike racing is not new to London streets with stage 3 being the fourth big race finish on The Mall. The first was the London-Surrey Cycling Classic in 2011 won by Mark Cavendish, which worked as the test event for the 2012 Summer Olympic road race won by Alexander Vinokourov. The city last hosted the Tour de France in 2007 with prologue won by Fabian Cancellara, and the start of stage 1 to Canterbury.