It’ll never happen again... How Calderdale turned out for the Tour

CALDERDALE was buzzing with excitement as the world’s biggest annual sporting event pedalled through the district.

Sunday, 6th July 2014, 6:09 pm
The Tour de France peloton races through Hebden Bridge.

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The Tour de France race pictured passing through West Tanfield in North Yorkshire.

Tens of thousands of spectators lined the route to cheer on the cyclists during stage two of the Tour de France.

From French themed parties to Daleks on bikes, residents and visitors alike all got into the spirit of the occasion.

There was a party atmosphere in Ripponden as many locals turned out to watch the once in a lifetime event hit their hometown, while others travelled from the other side of the world to take in the beautiful Yorkshire landscape.

Diane Mallinson, 52, a Ripponden local, said: “It was absolutely fantastic and actually quite an emotional moment when the cyclists came through.

The peloton rides up Main Street in Haworth, and across Yorkshire on Day 2 of the Grand Depart

“It was truly, especially as I just didn’t know what to expect.”

Nicola Walton, 38, watched the spectacle from her parents’ shop, Toll House Jewellery, and said that it has received orders from all over the world for Tour de France themed products.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic,” Nicola said.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before so it’s been a really fantastic day.

“People have come from far and wide and everyone who has spoken to us have said they have really enjoyed it and commented on what a warm Yorkshire welcome they have received.

“It’s really shown off how great the county is.”

The village of West Vale came to a standstill as the race drew thousands of people onto the streets.

Crowds stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the route, with people lining the railings along the Andy Thornton Mill, which hosted a party in honour of the Grand Depart.

The village was decked out in yellow bunting, Union Jack flags and home-made banners as residents flooded the streets to welcome Le Tour.

Jerry Hodkinson, of Andy Thornton Mill, said: “It’s been an amazing experience. Everybody has come up to me and said what a wonderful day it’s been.”

David Potter, from King Cross, was among the crowds.

He said: “It was excellent. I watch it every year but to see it in the flesh - it’ll never happen again.

“The atmosphere was electric and it was a really good turnout.”

Massive crowds lined the streets of Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd as the cyclists whizzed through the Calder Valley.

Simon Belt got a front row seat on Burnley Road for the race.

“It was absolutely brilliant that the market town of Hebden Bridge was at the centre of the Tour de France,” he said.

Yvonne Cawley, who travelled from Derbyshire to watch the race, said: “There is such a buzz about and it is great. The opportunity to see it was too good to miss.”

Spectators in Cragg Vale had the added bonus of seeing the site of a new world record.

Hard-working crafters have produced the longest continuous stretch of bunting in the world, which was hung along Cragg Road - the longest continuous incline in the country.

Globe-trotting friends Jonny Ramsey, Nick Keane and Gareth Walker, all from East Anglia and who have previously watched the race in the Alps and the Pyrenees, came to Calderdale for this year’s Grand Depart.

After tucking into breakfast at Elland Cricket Club, they were on their bikes to secure a prime viewing spot in the Pennines.

Gareth said: “We’ve just winged it really - we didn’t organise anything but it’s turned out really well.”

Rob Brooks, of Liversedge, who travelled to watch the race at Blackley, said Paris would have a tough act to follow after such a successful few days in Yorkshire.

“It’s fantastic that it’s happening in Yorkshire - you have to keep pinching yourself,” he said.

“It’s a massive event in France but it’s really caught on here too.”

It was a successful day for lots of Calderdale businesses as tourists flocked to the area.

Among the highlights was a new world record set by Ogden-based Stod Fold Brewery at the Fleece Inn, Ripponden, for the world’s largest pint.

The huge, specially constructed glass contains an incredible 3,664 pints.

Johnny Naylor, the London partner of the brewery, said: “We worked through the night to get it sorted.

“We wanted to do something different and it’s a fantastic feeling.”