All along the route of the two stages of the Tour de France Grand depart are places to stay and enjoy the hospitality of the people of Yorkshire.
Chris Boardman, former Olympic Champion race cyclist and World Record holder has been along the route and believes that these will tax even the best of the riders in the race this weekend.
Stage 1 – Leeds to Harrogate – 190km
Whilst the French (and probably most of the riders) believe that the Yorkshire leg is going to be an easy one is in for a bit of a lesson. Stage one is alleged to be a brilliant one for the sprinters so we are fortunate to have team GB super-sprinter Mark Cavendish to hand to take the baton for the UK.
The Tour de France caravan – a procession of floats and vehicles that hand out souvenirs and other freebies to the crowds – will set off from the Headrow, opposite Leeds Art Gallery, at 9.10am.
Two hours later, the teams will begin the race from the same location in the City Centre of Leeds and runs deep into the Yorkshire Dales taking in some of the most picturesque villages along the route.
The residents have all been beavering away for weeks preparing for the massive influx of visitors including a huge sheep painted on the roadway so that the helicopters can see them!
There are literally hundreds of camp-sites, viewing areas and hubs all over the County so take advantage of them, get along and see all of the race on the big screen once they have passed your area.
Stage 2 – York to Sheffield – 201km
Day two sees the second stage get under way taking the riders from York to Sheffield on a gruelling 201km ride.
Again, as detailed in a recent report by Chris Boardman, where the competitors may have thought that the speedy first leg played to the individual rider this is most definitely going to test them to the core.
The Peak District is likely to show a few breakaways as they take on some very heavy roads and short but very steep climbs en route and the final 5km is certainly going to see the boys separated from the men but this can also impact on the team results so they are going to have to keep an eye on all their team members.
The Tour de France was created in 1903 and was initially a 5-stage race held over a considerable 5 week period from the end of May through to the end of the first week of July.
The format changed into a multiple stage team event in 1930 when teams represented their countries. At this point, the costs of accommodating all the riders was borne by the contestants themselves but this marked a change to a new era where advertising is king and the publicity ‘caravan’ came to the fore.
Le Tour’s now World famous publicity caravan is now a 180 vehicle procession of elaborate floats that will be passing through both of the Yorkshire stages around 2 hours before the riders pass through.
Amongst the ‘freebies’ which will be passed out to the masses are some 60,000 packets of Haribo sweeties from Pontefract and 5 million tea bags from Taylors of Harrogate (there’s nowt better than a nice cuppa tea – eyup!)
It is also traditional for there to be some chalk graffiti on the roads including a number of notices like ‘ey-up T de F’ on Penistone Road (Sheffield leg) and a Union Jack pn the Grinton Moor stretch of the road race. One farmer has even coloured his little flock of sheep in the jersey colours – just when you thought you had seen it all. When asked about whether the sheep were disturbed by the colours, the lambs had experienced some difficulties in identifying their mum but a couple of bleats later and they were back on track.
It is a once in a lifetime event so lets show our support to team GB and if you would like some fireworks for the late evening entertainment, get in touch with us.