Tour de France fever took over Leeds city centre as the stage was set for today’s Grand Depart.
There was a carnival atmosphere as crowds milled around Victoria Gardens on The Headrow in the pre-race buzz.
National and international media interviewed visitors for audiences back home, trying not to get in the way of the hordes clamouring to get photos of the permanent marker on the pavement, while the official Tour boutique was swamped with people, four-deep, desperate for souvenirs.
At the Town Hall, a sea of yellow ‘carpets’ drew scores into the Yorkshire Bicycle Show, while others sat in deck chairs on the steps outside, listening to The Puncture Kit, aka David Osborne, The Bicycle Drummer, who drums on his upturned bike.
Among the crowds was Chris Garside, 53, from Bramley, who had cycled into town to soak up the atmosphere.
He said: “It’s brilliant. I think it should be here every year. We’ve got the countryside like France has.”
Nearby shopping centre, The Light, was preparing for a busy weekend.
Deputy Centre Manager, Gemma Chidgey, said: “It’s an incredible event for us – and for Leeds as a whole – and we’re proud to be close to the action.”
Across the road, on the corner of Park Row, artist Marc Ahr was halfway through a panoramic sketch of Victoria Gardens. The Frenchman specialises in sporting events, having covered 13 Olympic Games. He also covered last year’s 100th Tour, but is attending only the UK stages this year, visiting Harrogate, Knaresborough and London.
He said: “I came here because last year I painted the whole of the Tour de France and I promised myself I would never do that again!”
Round the corner, French cafe and bakery Le Chalet, was dealing with an increase in numbers.
Manager Ibi Bartus said: “In the afternoons, we are getting a lot of tourists in. People are coming in to try our French products.”
Not to be outdone, signs on the doors of the Victoria Quarter declare that yellow is the new black and, as part of its ‘Sur Votre Velo’ campaign, the Harvey Nichols cafe was serving ‘Le Yorkshire Pudding’ for lunch, complete with roast beef filling.