The Tour de France (TdF) brand got some extra essence over the weekend thanks to Yorkshire’s splendid hospitality, scenery and about 2.5 million city dwellers, villagers and cycling fans who lined up all along the route of the opening two stages of the Grand Depart.
Sprinter Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) came in first in the opener from Leeds to Harrogate after a tragic crash 300m from the finishing line took out one of Britain’s favourites, Mark Cavendish, dashing him from the remainder of the competition.
Sunday’s Stage 2 sent the peloton up moor hills and down Dales as they made their way from York to Sheffield, ending with a win for Italian champion, Vicenzo Nibali, team Astana.
The tour organizers made an excellent choice in coming north of London for the first time in the TdF’s 101 year history. The route was a thing of beauty too, the highlight, for me, being the ride up through Haworth, where Bronte literary types were outnumbered, at least for the day, by sporting types. I was reminded of my own childhood, a seven-year-old sat outside my parent’s newspaper shop, watching and listening to the whirling wheels and changing gears of the Milk Race riders as they sped up the cobbles. Back to the present, it was a delight to see this year’s Tour go on up to the Pennine Moors, the setting for Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, and past the front of the house where I was born and bred.
Next stop London…
Ay Allez Up and Vive Le Tour de Yorkshire!
For more cycling and Tour de France 2014 photos, please go to J. Ashley Nixon Photography