The Tour de France. I’ve been a fan ever since Channel Four first started to show it on TV over here, many years ago. I’ve seen three stages in France, while we were over there on holiday and the route took it close to where we were staying. It’s been to Britain three times before – down south. But this year the Tour was starting in Yorkshire, close enough to go over for the day. So on Saturday we decided we’d travel over to Skipton – just over an hour’s drive from home – to catch the first stage.
The morning started off a little grey and it had rained overnight. But as we drive over the clouds started to break and the weather got better and better as the day went on.
We set off at about 8. I’d expected the traffic to be bad, but it wasn’t at all other than lots of cyclists on the A59 making their way to Skipton. So we got there in just over an hour, We managed to park up at the cricket club, close to the station. There was a great atmosphere – a real buzz. Lots of enthusiasm. And everywhere you look residents and businesses had made a real effort to get into the spirit.
The town was absolutely packed.
So we made our way to the road out of town towards Grassington. It was packed with people all the way along, but we managed to find ourselves a decent “spec”.
It really is a spectacle. Like a festival. You wait for ages then the caravan – promotional convoy chucking out cheap freebies that everyone fights for – comes past.
After a wait of about another hour and a half. Cars and motorbikes – including French Gendarmes – kept zipping past.
Then, finally we heard the cheers from down the hill and the leading group of 3 bikes zipped past. A breakaway led by Jens Voight
A few more minutes wait and then it was the turn of the Peloton – the main bunch. It was all over in a few minutes. I managed to get some shots of the riders but some came out blurred as they were moving pretty fast.
Looking at my photos after I got home I realised I’d managed to catch a rear view of Chris Froome
So we started to head down the hill into the town – with everyone else! There were s many people the road was packed and it was difficult to move at times.
We made it into the town centre where there was still a festival mood.
We didn’t hang around too long. we soaked up the atmosphere for a while but then it was back to the car for the drive home. And we arrived in time to catch the last hour or so of the race on the telly. A big disappointment when Mark Cavendish crashed out but despite this a great start to the tour.
Next day was another stage in Yorkshire – from York to Sheffield by a circuitous route. With the Tour traversing country I’m familiar with it really drove home just how far they ride during a stage and the incredibly punishing effort involved.