The Tour de France started with a bang, as Yorkshire shows just why it was deserving of the world’s biggest cycling race – where did you watch it?
Critics of Yorkshire staging the Grand Depart in 2014 have been few and far between, but any doubts as to whether the county could actually pull it off were put to bed with typical gusto.
Just after dawn on Saturday morning, the city of Leeds was awash with eager cycling fans prepared to celebrate the start of the 101st Tour de France. Already a busy route, The Headrow had never witnessed such footfall and festivities.
Such is the nature of folk from Leeds and Yorkshire that the warm welcome the riders, teams and organisers of the Tour de France received is little surprise, even if the spectacle was still something to behold.
General Director of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, has been quick to salute Yorkshire’s participation, “I work for the Tour, but I also love the Tour, and I have seen that the people of Yorkshire love the Tour too. I can see the Tour in their hearts, and in their eyes. For that, I say thank you to Welcome to Yorkshire, and to everyone in Yorkshire who has made this Grand Départ so very, very special.
“Bernard Hinault said to me, it is the first time in 40 years on a bike that he has seen crowds like we saw this weekend. What you did was good for Yorkshire, for sure, but what you did was also good for the Tour. When you said you would deliver the grandest Grand Départ it was the truth, you have raised the bar for all future hosts of the Tour de France.”
High praise, indeed…
From its starting point on The Headrow and through the likes of Harrogate, York and Sheffield (and seemingly everywhere in between), around 2.5m people lined the streets of God’s Own County. They’ve done so not just to get a glimpse of the world’s leading road racers, but also to come together and show just why Yorkshire can justify its ever growing reputation.
Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, was at the starting line in Leeds to witness the culmination of over two years hard work, that has seen him personally fly the flag for the city and Yorkshire, aiming to promote just how much the area has going for it, and how much potential it has to take that to the next level.
“When we first bid for the Grand Départ, I promised Christian Prudhomme that we would deliver the grandest Grand Départ the Tour has ever seen,” explained Verity. “It gives me immense pride to say that we made good on that promise, and the success of this spectacular event will welcome an incredible new chapter in the history of Yorkshire. Millions of people both right here at the roadside and in homes all over the world have seen the magnificence of Yorkshire, and our beautiful county has done itself proud once again.”
Photos copyright Ollievision.
Scott Hall Road Hub
The esteemed Yorkshire welcome was evident all the way along the route, as huge numbers descended upon the county’s roadsides to catch a glimpse of the Tour de France peloton zoom past. As witnessed along Scott Hall Road, where one of the Hubs for the Tour was set up to great effect.
“Around 2.5 million spectators lined the route over two days and revelled in being part of history,” said Sir Rodney Walker, Chairman of TdFHUB2014. “The passion of the crowds in Yorkshire has really made this a weekend to remember. There has been a huge amount of planning and hard work from all the partners involved to ensure the first two stages were a success. We have once again showcased how the UK can deliver amazing events, and a world-wide audience has seen the best of Yorkshire and the UK. I have no doubts the benefits of hosting the Tour de France in the UK will be felt both in the short and long term.”
Photos copyright Laurie Cooper-Murray.
Despite the injury to Mark Cavendish, which has seen the Manx Missile pull out of the rest of the Tour after a crash in Harrogate, the teams and cyclists have of course been amazed by what they’ve seen. Stage One winner and inaugural yellow jersey holder Marcel Kittel took to Twitter to praise the Yorkshire support after a disappointing second stage – something which is set to filter out across the country, continent and beyond.
And my yellow dream is over again. But it was unique 2 ride in yellow in front of this crazy crowd! Won’t forget that 4 the rest of my life.
— Marcel Kittel (@marcelkittel) July 6, 2014
And it’s that knock on effect where Yorkshire will see another huge boost thanks to the Tour. With millions descending upon the county, it seems that millions will be going back into the coffers. It’s been (conservatively) estimated that £100m will be poured back to Yorkshire, yet it’s the long term effect that the county needs to look towards.
Photos copyright Jess Rowbottom.
Making the most of Leeds
Such has been the anticipation of the Tour de France, it was little surprise to see Leeds turn into something of a carnival once the cyclists made their way out of the city. Years of build up, organisation and planning meant that this was no throwaway moment for Leeds, and the crowds, from City Square to Briggate, The Headrow to Albion Street, were determined to make the most of the day.
And it’s that kind of attitude that has allowed Yorkshire to succeed where many others would fail (or at least fall short). When Prudhomme, a man who should know, salutes the 2014 Grand Départ in such a manner, calling it the ‘grandest Grand Départ’, there’s every chance Yorkshire has seized the opportunity bestowed upon the county.
A successful Grand Départ builds a platform for Yorkshire to show itself off to the world, and as a result (didn’t the scenery look bloody marvellous?) it’s hoped the hordes who weren’t lucky enough to be here for the cycling will come regardless and enjoy what Leeds and the rest of Yorkshire has to offer. Well, they’d have to be off their rockers not to be a little bit tempted.
Au revoir, the Tour. Bonjour, the tourists?
Did you line the streets of Leeds and Yorkshire to see the Tour de France zoom by? Send us your pictures and favourite memories of the day down in the comments below…