Final rehearsals for Tour de France opening ceremony complete

The Team Presentation opening ceremony rehearsal at Leeds First Direct Arena. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The Team Presentation opening ceremony rehearsal at Leeds First Direct Arena. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The acts ready to wow the crowds during the official Grand Depart Team Presentation opening ceremony tonight have finished final rehearsals.

Leeds band Hope and Social joined the choir and chorus of Opera North to complete their final checks yesterday, before the Tour de France is declared open by director Christian Prudhomme and Welcome to Yorkshire’s Gary Verity tonight.

The Leeds first Direct Arena spectacular, billed as the biggest opening ceremony in Tour history, follows Prudhomme’s address to Leeds City Council’s full council at Leeds Civic Hall yesterday.

At the meeting it was announced legendary late Morley cyclist Beryl Burton, whose honours include winning best British all-rounder for 25 consecutive years, will be named as a Freeman of Leeds in September, joining the likes of Nelson Mandela and Sir Winston Churchill.

In his address to the council, Prudhomme said: “I am really happy to be here with you. It’s a great honour for me to be in front of you. If I didn’t know what ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’ means I think it is well understood these last two days. You are kind people.

“We come with the Tour de France, the world’s biggest cycling event. But it’s much more than just a great bike race.”

More than 10,000 people are expected to witness the official Team Presentation in person tonight, which will take place after all 198 Tour riders cycle through Leeds city Centre to the arena.

The cycling parade will lead to some city centre road closures from 4pm to around 10pm, while the ceremony itself will be beamed into living rooms nationwide on ITV4 from 7.30pm.

Prime Minister David Cameron also stated his excitement at the Tour’s impending Grand Depart from Yorkshire when prompted by Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.

He said: “I think it’s brilliant that the Tour de France is starting in Yorkshire. I think it’s going to be a fantastic event for our country but it’s also going to be a great advertisement for Yorkshire and for all that Yorkshire has to offer. I’m very much looking forward to going myself and seeing some of the race and some of the preparations.”




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