Saturday 5th July 2014 is a date seared into the memories of all cycling enthusiasts in the United Kingdom. On this auspicious summer day, Le Grand Départ of the famous Tour de France bike race leaves from the city of Leeds. Yes, Yorkshire, that most quintessentially British of counties, is playing host to that most French of fancies, Le Tour. The 101st Tour de France, the most famous of cycle races, is pushing off from Leeds – offering a fantastic opportunity to take in the festival atmosphere of this sporting spectacle, alongside some truly wonderful Yorkshire scenery.
The world’s greatest cycling event is coming to Yorkshire.
Image source: flickr.com/photos/40365317@N06
It has been a long wait, but the United Kingdom has come of age as a cycling nation with heroes such as 2012 Tour winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and sprint specialist Mark Cavendish, we should all look forward to this long weekend in July as a chance to glimpse our cycling heroes in action. Last time Le Tour came to the United Kingdom was back in 2007, but since then our reputation as a cycling nation has soared, so big crowds are expected to line the route to cheer our boys in Lycra on.
The actual segment of Le Tour de France that takes place in the UK starts on 5th July and continues with two further stages on the 6th and 7th. Stages one and two take place in Yorkshire and the third runs between Cambridge and London.
The two Yorkshire stages are the ones we are interested in. The first begins in Leeds and travels to the beautiful town of Harrogate, a long 190 kilometre ride away. Cycling through the scenic Yorkshire Dales and picturesque countryside of the area, the world will get a chance to appreciate the attractions of this fine county. An exciting day’s cycling will peak with a nail-biting sprint into historic Harrogate.
Day two sees Stage Two pedal off from York, travelling 200 kilometres to the city of Sheffield. En route, the peloton will meet the challenges of stunning mountain climbs and twisty hilltop terrain as they thread their way through the iconic Yorkshire landscape. Finally, reaching the famous city of steel for a shower, hot meal and a good night’s sleep – before doing it all again the next day.
Those wishing to squeeze the most fun from this once in a lifetime event choose to travel around with the cyclists, lining the route and offering encouragement. This year’s itinerary offers the perfect opportunity for exploring the county of Yorkshire, viewing its pretty countryside and visiting some of its key towns.
Luxury coach travel is the ideal way of motoring to the race points, avoiding traffic congestion and parking difficulties. By travelling with private minibus or coach hire it is possible to enjoy the spectacle of the race without worrying about luggage, map reading or finding places to stay. Add to that the increased enjoyment of sharing a unique sporting event with like-minded fans and you have the perfect, unforgettable long weekend in July. Contact companies like http://www.britannia-coaches.co.uk/ for further information.
As well as world class cycling, what else can you expect to see on such a trip? Well the race starts from outside the 19th century Leeds Town Hall, right in the centre of the city. Day one takes in several Yorkshire towns including Ilkley, Addingham, Skipton and Ripley. Much of the race is spent in the wild beauty of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Winding roads through picturesque villages present the riders with a moderate challenge before the climbs up Kidstones Pass and the gruelling Buttertubs Pass. Aysgarth, famous for its waterfalls and Wensleydale, a place where the French could learn a thing or two about cheese are passed along the route. The day ends at the architecturally splendid Harrogate, a spa town with plenty of good eateries and accommodation, although it’s advisable to book well in advance.
The race will be going through many great landmarks.
Image source: flickr.com/photos/geertschneider
Stage two of the race starts at York’s historic Knavesmire Racecourse. Leaving the ancient city the peloton heads through Keighley and Howarth, the wild literary landscape made famous by the Bronte family. Sweeping through the arty town of Hebden Bridge and the craft beer capitol, Huddersfield, the race finally passes through the gorgeous Peak District National Park before stopping at Sheffield.
There’s a change of scene for stage three on Monday 7th July which strikes out from the historic university town of Cambridge. A race to the finish line in London will take the cyclists through pretty parts of Essex before reaching their final destination for an exciting climax on The Mall, London. This final UK stretch is a distance of 159 kilometres and marks the end of Le Tour’s short, but eventful visit to our shores.
So why not take the opportunity of exploring God’s Own County whilst catching the best cycle race in the world? It’s hard to imagine a better way to spend a weekend in July…