This weekend the one hundred and first edition of the worlds greatest cycling race game came to the cities, towns, villages, dales and passes of the worlds greatest county, Yorkshire. It seemed as though nearly the whole county had turned out to watch and every village on the route was decked out in knitted yellow, green and red spotted jumpers and yellow bunting. With race director Christian Prudhomme saying that Yorkshire’s Grand Depart was the “grandest” ever it seems our hosting of the Tour de France was a tour de force.
Stage one started outside the imposing Leeds Town Hall before parading through the Leeds suburbs to Harwood House where it was given a royal send off. Then it was through Otley, Ilkley and Skipton before heading into the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. The riders travelled through some of the best scenery in the country to the most northerly point Le Tour has ever reached before heading back south for a sprint finish in the spa town of Harrogate.
Stage two started in the historic city of York, travelling from the racecourse through the city centre past the majestic York Minster and west towards Harrogate again. From there it brushed the southern Dales before heading south through Keighley and to the wonderful Pennine towns of Haworth and Holmfirth. Up the iconic Holme Moss, into the Peak District then down to the finish in Sheffield. Here are some of my favourite pictures of the amazing event.
Leeds, Town Hall: Stage one of the 2014 Tour de France started from outside Leeds Town Hall. An estimated 40,000 people were said to have lined the streets of Leeds ahead of the start.
Leeds, The Headrow: The riders headed down The Headrow on their parade then then through the suburbs of Scott Hall, Moortown and Alwoodley on the way to Harewood.
Harewood House: There was a ceremonial start at Harewood House as the Dutchess of Cambridge cut the ribbon. The riders then snaked through the house grounds and back onto the public highway near Arthington.
Ilkley: Racing began as the official car moved aside on the road to Poole. The race then passed through Pool in Wharfedale, Otley and onto Ilkley.
Ilkley: Thousands lined the streets of Ilkley as the riders passed through then it was on to Addingham, Skiption and into the Yorkshire Dales national park.
The Dales: Even if the riders didn't have time to look up the cameras filmed the beautiful scenery of the Yorkshire Dales. The eyes of the world were on Yorkshire and it didn't disappoint.
Buttertubs: The crowds were out in force on the climbs, especially on Buttertubs Pass or Cote de Buttertubs as the French called it. Spectators had walked and cycled for miles to get the best vantage points.
Buttertubs: Leader Jens Voigt was cheered all the way up the climb at Buttertubs but when the peloton reached the pass there was barely room for them to get through.
Muker: The tour reached the most northerly point it has ever been at Reeth. Here we see the scene at the village of Muker, just to the west of Reeth.
Grinton Moor: The final climb of the day was out of the village of Grinton onto Grinton Moor and Bellerby Ranges.
Grinton Moor: After the final climb the course descended towards Leyburn onto Masham, Ripon and into Harrogate.
Harrogate: Mark Cavendish keen to win the stage in his mothers home town pushed too hard and ended up crashing right in front of the world famous Bettys Tea Rooms.
York: Stage two started at York Racecourse before heading into the historic city centre. Here the riders pass yet another Bettys.
Haworth: The riders were fearing the cobbled sections of the race in Northern France but they met them for the first time in Haworth climbing up Main Street.
Holme Moss: The climbs were no less crowded on stage two, particularly at Holme Moss and Woodhead where thousands of people turned out to watch.
Holme Moss: After the riders fought there way through amazing crowds they descended to the finish in Sheffield. All in all an amazing weekend and one which made me extremely proud to be from Yorkshire.
Oh, and stage three was down south somewhere, apparently that went quite well too.