THE crowds, the fanfare, the sporting spectacle – it was an event that really did have a certain je ne sais quoi. Now, less than a year on from the Tour de France Grand Départ’s visit to Leeds, the city is ready to do it all again.
Tens of thousands of people are set to line the streets tomorrow for the final stage of the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire cycle race.
And Leeds is promising to deliver a welcome that should give cyclists and fans who were here in 2014 a happy feeling of déjà vu.
City council leader Coun Keith Wakefield said: “Last year’s Tour de France Grand Départ was the highlight of the year for Leeds, and showed just how much can be achieved when we all come together as a city.
“This year’s Tour de Yorkshire will be another great and exciting sporting event, helping to put our region firmly on the national and international map.
“I’d encourage residents and businesses along the route in Leeds to give a warm Yorkshire welcome to riders and spectators alike.
“Leeds is rapidly becoming a cycling city and I’m sure that even more residents will be out on their bikes to watch the race on what promises to be a terrific Bank Holiday weekend!”
As many as 30,000 people are expected at the Tour de Yorkshire’s finish line in the picturesque surroundings of Roundhay Park tomorrow.
An official spectator hub will be open on Soldiers’ Field in the park from midday to 6pm and will feature a family picnic area.
Younger visitors should be kept entertained by funfair rides, inflatables and activity zones that will include a jungle gym and a ball pool.
Giant screens will show live coverage of the race from 3pm, when the cyclists are due to be passing through Haworth. From there they will head for Silsden before pedalling up the A6034 Bolton Road and hitting the north western edge of Leeds at Addingham.
Then it will be onto Ilkley and the famous Cow and Calf Rocks at around 3.40pm, with Otley to follow about 15 minutes later.
Next will come Pool in Wharfedale and a sprint point at Arthington before a turn south towards Eccup, Alwoodley and the outskirts of Shadwell.
Attention will subsequently switch to the A6120 Leeds Outer Ring Road, Wetherby Road and Princes Avenue as the peloton speeds towards the crowds waiting at the finish line.
Rolling road closures of up to an hour will be in force along much of the route together with various on-street parking suspensions.
Disruption is likely on local bus services while fans aiming to use the event car parks at Roundhay Park are being advised to arrive no later than 3pm to avoid disappointment.
Coun Lucinda Yeadon, the city council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills, said: “There’s an incredible array of international riders competing in the Tour de Yorkshire and I’m sure residents from across the city will want to get the best possible spot to watch the race from. With up to 30,000 spectators expected for the finish at Roundhay Park, I would urge anyone wanting to soak up the atmosphere and excitement of the race finale to plan ahead and get there in good time.”
Wakefield city centre will host the start of tomorrow’s action, with the riders setting out from Wakefield Cathedral at around 12.15pm.
They will pass Castle Grove Park, Sandal Castle and Newmillerdam before going onto Barnsley, Holmfirth and Hebden Bridge bound for Leeds.
Saturday’s stage is taking the cyclists from Selby to York via places including Market Weighton, Beverley, Malton and Stamford Bridge.
Yesterday’s opening Bridlington-Scarborough leg was won by Norway’s Lars Petter Nordhaug. There was also dismay, however, as top riders Ben Swift and Marcel Kittel were forced to pull out.
The event, which is being co-organised by Welcome To Yorkshire, could be worth £40m to the local economy.
Don’t miss Monday’s Yorkshire Evening Post for a full race report and a special Tour de Yorkshire supplement.