It’s the biggest thing to hit Britain’s biggest county in many years. The world’s greatest cycle race – the Tour de France – will start in Yorkshire on 5 and 6 July, bringing millions of fans to the roadside to cheer on the champions.
It will be the first time Le Tour has visited the north of England, and thousands of people are doing their bit to ensure it will be a great festival and a spectacle for cycling fans and first timers alike.
It’s certain Yorkshire will rise to occasion and give the riders, the teams and the race organisers a Grand Départ to remember. Yorkshire is a world-class county and it will deliver a world-class event.
This is Yorkshire’s moment to shine. More than three billion people watch Le Tour on television every year, providing a wonderful advert for the White Rose county and hopefully it will prompt people who maybe haven’t visited before or not been in a while to book a break.
With the recent success of British riders, notably Chris Froome in 2013 and Bradley Wiggins becoming the first Briton to win Le Tour in 2012 shortly followed by a gold medal time trial performance in London, the popularity of cycling has never been greater.
The 101st running of the Tour de France will begin on Saturday 5 July outside the magnificent 19th century Town Hall in the heart of Leeds. From the steps of the concert venue the riders will head northwest out of the city centre and into the Yorkshire countryside.
They will pass Harewood House, home of the Lascelles family for more than 250 years, before they head to Skipton.
Up to this point the route is fairly flat, but once they enter the Dales the terrain gets steeper as the riders race a semi-circular route across the contours of the valleys.
They leave at the north east edge of the National Park sweeping southeast through Leyburn and Ripon, rejoining the flat roads to Harrogate. It is here at the end of a long straight line finish that we will discover who will be the first rider to wear the famous yellow jersey of the 2014 Tour de France.
York, the great walled city brimming with history, is the venue for the start of stage two on Sunday 6 July. Starting at Clifford’s Tower, the peloton will head west, passing through Harrogate once again before turning south and heading to
Huddersfield via Haworth, home of literary sisters, the Brontës.
From here the cyclists will tackle a number of steep sections before they arrive at the gateway to another National Park, the Peak District, on the edge of the Pennines.
The slopes start to get steeper here especially the stretch leading to Holme Moss, renowned as one of the toughest climbs in the whole of Great Britain. There are still a few hills to cross before the cyclists arrive in the UK’s first city of sport,
Sheffield. The last hill climb of the day is less than five kilometres from the finish in the north-east of the city next to the Don Valley Stadium.
After Yorkshire’s Grand Départ, Stage 3 on Monday 7 July will take riders from Cambridge to Essex with a finish on The Mall in London.
Christien Prudhomme, Tour de France director, said: “Yorkshire has earned the right to welcome the Tour.” He praised the quality of the facilities, infrastructure and sites, the stunning landscape, the roads in a variety of terrains, and the county’s cycling heritage.
“We are foreseeing a huge event with massive popular support.”
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, added: “We love to meet new people and to make them feel at home in the place which has the nickname of God’s Own County.
“We know that the millions of Yorkshire men, women and children who turn out to cheer on the riders as they pass through our city streets and country lanes will give the Tour de France the warmest welcome ever.”