Tour de Yorkshire (Harrogate) – Le Tour de France 2014
As you probably know, the Tour de France is a multiple stage bicycle race and as the name would suggest, it is held primarily in France. From time to time it drifts through nearby countries, taking in some new scenery and challenging the cyclists involved to climb different mountains and traverse precipitous drops while crawling uphill or careering downhill at speed.
This year that country is England and excitement on this side of the Channel is growing rapidly. This is certainly true in Harrogate, as the first stage of Le Tour is due to finish in our pretty old spa town.
Cycling is big news in the UK. Since Team GB started trouncing the opposition at the Olympics and in other international competitions, there has been a definite increase in bikes on the roads, much to the annoyance of many motorists. But people are going to have to get used to the swell of cycles in the UK as the Tour de France hops across the Channel and visits Yorkshire in 2014.
Athletes such as Sir Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome have created a huge buzz around this sport thanks to their gold medals, yellow jerseys and fantastic performances, and Le Tour has recognised the talent and passion for cycling in the UK. It seems that this buzz is only going to grow too, as fans of this sport of endurance, determination and strength await the first two stages of the Tour de France 2014, which are both taking part in Yorkshire.
The Tour de France originated in 1903 in France, where cycling was already hugely popular. The first event actually came from the attempt of one sporting newspaper, L’Auto, to match its rival, the leading newspaper at the time, Le Velo.
L’Auto’s cycling correspondent Geo Lefevre suggested that this could be achieved by staging a race around France – something that had never been done before. The paper’s management backed Lefevre’s idea and staked its future on the success of this race.
A route from Paris down the country, across Southern France and back north to the capital was planned but proved too daunting for many cyclists, as did the duration of the competition: 19 days. This led to only 15 men entering the competition initially. But after the prize money was raised to 12,000 francs and 3,000 for each day’s win the number of entrants swelled to between 60 and 80.
It’s needless to say that Le Tour was a complete success and paved the way for more than a century of these competitions.
The 2014 Route
If you are interested in seeing this historic sporting event when it all kicks off in Yorkshire, the route passes through numerous towns and villages. Stage one begins in Leeds on Saturday 5 July. This challenging 190km race will visit Harewood, Otley, Ilkley, Skipton, Kettlewell, Aysgarth, Hawes, Reeth, Leyburn and Ripon, before finishing right here in Harrogate. Our town’s streets are sure to be packed for this exciting finale to the first stage of the 2014 tour.
The second stage will also take place in the heart of Yorkshire, beginning in York on Sunday 6 July. This slightly longer 200km race will pass through Knaresborough, Silsden, Keighley, Haworth, Hebden Bridge, Elland, Huddersfield and Holmfirth, before finishing in the steel city, Sheffield.
TDF 2014 FREE Infographic
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Cycling in Yorkshire
The excitement for the Tour de France is almost palpable and it’s still some time away. In the meantime there is a great deal of cycling going on in Yorkshire that you can get involved in by either watching of taking part.
There are numerous road races, circuit races, leagues and championships which are held across the region, and cycling clubs for riders of all levels to help you get in shape and to continue growing the nation’s, and the region’s passion for cycling.
For more information on the tour please visit the offical site - letour.yorkshire.com