article-2662512-1EEC4DC300000578-156_634x382So Le Tour is here, as proud Yorkshire lass I’m extremely excited, last night was spent in a rather damp Harrogate but it wasn’t stalling the party atmosphere, people were spilling out the bars and pubs on to the streets to enjoy their pints in the traditional northern drizzle. It did feel like a little bit of France had been grafted on to the historic town. Wooly knitted jerseys adorned the street furniture… some shrinkage had occurred, others looked like those old bathing suits from the 1940’s that would reveal all upon leaving the chilly surf of Skegness… I should point out I don’t have first knowledge of this I’m not that old! I have heard many tales from older relatives.

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Mark at the start of Stage 1 Leeds – ©chrismaher.co.uk/CyclingShorts.cc

The people of Yorkshire have taken the tour to their heart with everything from the wooly bunting mentioned above, matching sheep… so that’s how they get the polka dots on the jerseys! a pub renamed… The Cvndsh and Horses or Betty’s creating little Malliot Jaune.

 
I’m now set up in the press area at the finish line (I say finish line, it’s a fair old trek) while the very brave CS team members are out along the course or at the Depart in Leeds. Heather, Fred and Chris working their magic (as you may have seen from the tweets). 
 
10495687_1471807243061468_388344776117289403_oI’ve heard some amazing plans by friends of mine about where they intend to watch the race from and then whizz to the finish line, I have to say they are ambitious to say the least, I can’t wait to hear how they get on and if the rail system holds up under the unbelievable demand. There doesn’t look to be too much space for spectators near the finish line of stage one so it will be interesting to see what happens.
 
The approach to the finish line down Ripon Road is quite a spectacle without a mass of cyclists coming down it, so it should be a real treat to see the colourful peloton swarm it’s way down the hill past the Conference Centre, it then takes quite a nasty kick up towards the infamous Betty’s Tea Rooms, the speed the riders come down the Ripon Road will mean they cope with the rise quite well, but if it’s a breakaway or a few sprinters prematurely out of the pack it’s going to sting. I still think Kittel, Cav and Sagan will be in the mix but the weather could play a big part in the stage. The forecast is for rain early in the stage and clearing later but so far it’s been beautiful with the crowds and , so fingers crossed…the hills may not be that of the Grand Tours usual haunts but it’s not as flat as the stage profile leads you to believe, there are some really nasty sharp bumpy climbs before you even get to Cote de Buttertubs. The  peloton need to remain alert as a small group off the front may stay away and spoil the race for the sprinters in Harrogate. 
 
Currently as I write this there is a breakaway of riders Nichola Edet (Cofidis), the ever tenacious Jens Voigt (TREK) and Beniot Jarrier (Bretange), the crowds and scenery are everything you’d expect from the Tour de France, Yorkshire was made for this race. 
 
Back to the racing, more to follow…
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