The South Pennines will bring another aspect of Yorkshire’s rich history and beauty to billions of Tour de France viewers worldwide next month.
Day two of the world’s most watched annual sporting event will make its way west from Harrogate before returning to Addingham and heading south on its way to the Sheffield finishing line on Sunday July 6.
Anticipation has been building for the cycling showpiece’s long-awaited arrival, with cycling events and Tour-inspired festivities colouring Bronte Country and the surrounding areas ahead of race day.
The region’s cycle shops have been hosting events, harbouring cycle clubs and turning shop fronts Tour crazy, but one Bradford framebuilder is hoping its series of handbuilt bikes will give riders a permanent memento of the Grand Depart.
Bradford-based cycle maker Pennine Cycles, which has been building steel-framed bicycles for 68 years, is among the Yorkshire firms hoping to cash in on the estimated £100m economic boost to the region that Le Tour is hoped to bring.
The iconic race’s famous yellow, green, polka-dot and white jerseys have been immortalised in a series of special Pennine bikes - the firm even created a one-off cycle combining all four jerseys for Gary Verity, chief executive of tourism firm Welcome to Yorkshire.
“No matter what people tell you, it’s a one-off – I can’t see it coming back and it’s for everybody to make the most of,” said Pennine’s owner Paul Corcoran. “Gary’s bike shows off what we do and obviously the four jerseys come together quite well – I’ve got a special yellow Grand Depart bike of my own.”
Mr Corcoran’s enthusiasm for Le Tour was matched by 23-year-old sculptor Craig Dyson, from Haworth, who appealed for 10,000 2p coins to build a 20ft-high spherical sculpture to mark the visit of the Grand Depart.
Elsewhere Bradford Council’s visitor information centres in Ilkley, Haworth, Saltaire and Bradford put a call out for all knitters to step forward and create special yellow Grand Depart bunting to dress the area ahead of Le Tour’s visit.
Patricia Tillotson, the council’s visitor economy manager, said: “It will look lovely and cheerful so we’re really looking forward to the end result.”
Preparations to help make the region Tour-ready have come no bigger than the giant Fields of Vision land art commissions organised as part of the Yorkshire Festival.
A series of 12 expansive installations across a 65mile stretch of the South Pennines have been created through a collaboration between Worth Valley Young Farmers, rural regeneration company Pennine Prospects and a series of artists.
Leeds Metropolitan University landscape architecture lecturer Trudi Entwistle’s depiction of ‘Ripples’ has seen a geometric pattern etched into a banking through fertiliser that will dye strips of Lower Laithe reservoir, in Stanbury, near Haworth, into differing shades.
The Hebden Bridge-based artist said: “I hope our work raises the profile of the Yorkshire landscape as well as this huge cycling event that’s going to be rolling by.”
‘Ripples’ is situated just a stone’s throw from fellow artist Simon Manfield’s ‘One Man and his Dog’ work, which gives a Yorkshire flavour to the series which is hoped to feature heavily in filming of the Tour’s visit to the second Yorkshire stage on July 6.
From early June each piece of land art will be best viewed from set vantage points, while the works will also be visible to local communities, those exploring the Tour de France route and viewers of the race on television.
Those intending on visiting the region in person for the big race are spoilt for choice for where to stay, with countless pop-up campsites complimenting spectator hubs and festivals all over the district.
As riders roll from the Wharfe Valley down towards Keighley, thousands of people are expected to station themselves at the idyllic 30,000acre Bolton Abbey estate on the banks of the River Wharfe.
Camping from Friday July 4 to Monday July 7 costs £105 per pitch and includes parking for one car. Additional parking spaces can be reserved for £10 per night.
The grounds of the 17th Century East Riddlesden Hall, in Keighley, will also be opened up to campers. Refreshments, entertainment and music will be provided to visitors although the hall itself will be closed.
Shelley Hollingdrake, community and learning officer at the hall, said: “It promises to be a really exciting time and there should be a great atmosphere.”
Yorkshire landowners in the areas around Haworth, Oxenhope and Addingham have teamed up with healthcare charity Sue Ryder to offer camping along the stage two route, with at least half the money generated by pitches being donated to the charity.
Sue Ryder will launch its Tour de France celebrations with an evening of high-octane entertainment and cycling history at Victoria Hall, in Keighley, on Friday July 4. The likes of Steeton Male Voice Choir, Keighley Amateur Singing and Dance Group and The Nydza School of Dance will perform during an event hosted by artist and cycling enthusiast Frank O’Dwyer. All proceeds will go directly to providing care at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice in Keighley.
The majority of Tour de France spectators in the region will be hoping to take in the cycling spectacle in one of two local free-ticketed spectator hubs at Keighley’s Victoria Park and Haworth Central Park.
More than 8,000 people will be split between the two camps, which will feature big screens, live music and activities during the Grand Depart weekend.
RACE TIMINGS STAGE ONE SUNDAY JULY 6
Cyclists will ride through Keighley at 13:00
The Tour de France publicity caravan will pass by two hours before the riders in each area.
Haworth - 13:10
Oxenhope Moor - 13:24