On Saturday 2nd May 2015 I was fortunate enough to witness part of the inaugural Le Tour De Yorkshire cycle race. Following on from the phenomenal success in 2014 when the opening stage of the Grand Depart Le Tour De France was set in Yorkshire, the popularity of cycling is maybe never higher in the UK.
If you witnessed some of the TV coverage last year you will know what I am referring to. Not only is this an exciting sport but the tv images of Yorkshire were absolutely stunning. I doubt the tourism board could have wished for any more positive profiling.
I suppose it is a tribute to the legacy of 2014 that we now have our own race. Using French words to describe (the tour of Yorkshire) is more than respect to the most famous road cycle race in the world. The race is owned by a French company called Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) who are based in Paris.
Being a Yorkshireman myself, I share the pride of many in the county to host what will hopefully become an annual event. As Yorkshire folk we might talk without many airs and graces but we are proud of our home. Many of us call it “God’s own country”. Indeed it is well known that a chap from this county will say he is “A Yorkshireman first, then an Englishman second”.
Yorkshire used to be the largest county in the UK (if you are unfamiliar with the term “county” then just think of a “State” like in the US). However a few decades ago it was split into 4 counties for political reasons. The pride of the residents though still lives on.
Here are some brief details of the cycle tour in Yorkshire:-
Le Tour De Yorkshire 2015 route
This new road cycle race is a three day event. The Tour De Yorkshire route is spread over the following stages:-
Day 1 – Bridlington to Scarborough 174 km (includes East and North Yorkshire)
Day 2 – Selby to York 174 km (includes East and North Yorkshire)
Day 3 – Wakefield to Leeds 167km (includes West and South Yorkshire)
Some quick facts about Le Tour De Yorkshire 2015
As well as a men’s there is also a women’s race which was held on day 2 (Sat 2nd May in York). The winner of this Le Tour Yorkshire race was Louise Mahe.
Day 1 of Tour De Yorkshire 2015 had been won by Norwegian Lars-Petter Nordhaug who races for Team Sky. Former winner of the Tour De France and Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins (of Team Wiggins) began stage 2 in 96th place out of 132 riders. In total 18 teams took part.
Stage 2 Tour De Yorkshire finished in the historic city of York with Dutch cyclist Moreno Hofland crossing the line first.
In addition to the professional events there is a Tour De Yorkshire Sportive being held on the final day, Sunday 3rd May where amateur cyclists can take part. Little wonder I came across numerous amateur cyclists in the build up to the arrivals of the pros.
The build up to the big race event included a Tour De Yorkshire Festival of various events beginning on 1st April right through to the end of the Yorkshire cycle race on 3rd May.
There was plenty of publicity in the build up to the race which has also received TV coverage from ITV4 and Eurosport in the UK.
My Le Tour De Yorkshire experience
I went online to the official website letour.yorkshire.com and was able to locate a tour de Yorkshire map. The route on all three days was passing through areas I am familiar with.
The Yorkshire cycle race begins in Bridlington which is close to Filey where we have our caravan in a holiday park on the coast. In fact the route was to go on the road outside the park.
The closest point for me was on the Saturday lunchtime in a place less than a dozen miles away in North Newbald.
North Newbald is a small East Yorkshire village, probably only best known to locals as well as hikers and cyclists along The Wolds Way. There are a couple of pubs in the centre of the village which are popular and can be a good overnight accommodation for hikers along the route.
I could have taken the option to go to Beverley, Selby or York however with these been more populated areas I felt they would be too crowded and a nightmare to park.
I was glad I chose to go to North Newbald because it had a wonderful village atmosphere. The tour of Yorkshire route of 2015 really did put this quaint little village on the map! I hope they do so again at some point in the future.
I arrived nice and early so I could park up and capture the atmosphere build.
As I walked through the village it was clear that Yorkshire as well as British pride was on display. Yes the bunting was out.
(Even more appropriate when you think that the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a baby girl on this day too.)
It was a real mix of Union Jacks, the St George’s cross as well as the Yorkshire flag on display all around.
Also novel bikes painted in Yorkshire colours were on display throughout the village. How some of them were placed where they were was a mystery in itself!
Many cyclists, notable a few from Hull University Cycling Club were present, riding up and down village roads in the build up to the event. I did notice quite a few though downing a pint or two in the village pubs as the late morning moved on.
Anticipation built and the crowds moved in.
As I looked along the route through the village there were lots of turns and clearly little space to watch the split second event of professional cyclists passing through.
I decided to opt back to the less crowded and more viewable “A road” just outside the village (A1034). I had a lot more space here and a better chance to get a good view.
Pretty soon a stream of police motorbikes started coming along the designated route and taking it in turns to close the road to oncoming traffic. They were marking the route out and keeping it passable for the cyclists.
Whilst more Tour De Yorkshire vehicles came by a race official with a flag took his position. He was going to guide the cyclists along the Tour De Yorkshire route as well as the supporting team vehicles. He had to blow a whistle quite a lot whilst doing so. To such an extent that he joked with us how he needed oxygen to keep blowing.
Then a lead vehicle drove by and someone inside announced on a tannoy that the race leaders would be with us in a few moments, and they were.
It was all over in a moment. A pack of around 7 or 8 eight cyclists appeared on the brow of the road, came down the road, rounded the corner and were gone. There was barely time to get a picture because there was so few of them and they were so quick. They were also surrounded by numerous motor bikes (police and tv camera bikes) that it was tricky to get a clear shot of them.
We’d been advised that they had a slight lead however it was a larger lead than we expected. The race had begun about 45 minutes earlier and it seemed as though they’d already developed a lead of maybe 6-7 minutes.
Then the Bradley Wiggins team and the rest of cyclists appeared along the Tour De Yorkshire route. Over 100 hundred professional cyclists whooshed past in barely the blinking of an eye.
That was it, they’d gone!
They would cover a 174km route in just less than four hours so it was always going to be fast. They were quickly followed by a long line of cycle team vehicles who provide support for the cyclists along the route (replacement wheels for punctures, drinks for rehydration and so on).
I must admit that it was a fabulous although fleeting experience. Having somewhere so close to home along the Tour De Yorkshire route generates a lot of pride. I can barely imagine how proud the people of North Newbald must be. They certainly did themselves and the spectacle proud with fabulous street decorations and a true festival atmosphere.
Here are some more of the pictures I took:-
Did you manage to take up a viewing position along Le Tour De Yorkshire 2015 route? How was the new and exciting addition to the professional cycling calendar for you?