Starbeck goes yellow as the Grand Depart makes a return to Harrogate
JUBILANT crowds lined the streets of Starbeck to witness a moment in history as the world’s greatest cyclists sped through on Sunday morning.
There were huge crowds along Knaresborough Road to cheer on the champions of the Tour de France as they raced through the town on Stage Two of the Grand Depart.
And while there were few tourists travelling to this part of Yorkshire, there was certainly a festival feel as the whole community turned out to make it a memorable day.
“To have the Tour de France right here on our front doorstep is a phenomenal feeling,” said David Reid from Forest Lane. “It’s just a shame that our lad Cavendish isn’t still in.”
Families in Starbeck woke early on Sunday to prepare their homes, stringing bunting from houses and threading yellow flowers through iron railings on the railway crossing.
Keen cycling fan John Manktelow was first on the roadside, waiting on Knaresborough Road from 5.30am with a book and a canvas chair.
Mum and daughter duo, Joanne Bowers, 39, and Linda Boddy, 61, still hopeful that their hero Cavendish might race, had created some good luck posters.
And as the race grew nearer, young Emma Bowers, 10, and Robbie Boddy, eight, joined dozens of young children brightening up the street scene to scribble colourful chalk messages on the road outside.
One family even built their own grandstand - complete with hay bales and bunting - to help them watch the race in style.
The Hamiltons, who live on the route, said they were determined to make the most of this once in a lifetime event.
“We are celebrating the best way we can,” said grandfather Dave, 58. “This opportunity isn’t to be missed. We are going all out.”
Starbeck Working Men’s Club, putting on refreshments all day, was lit up with yellow-themed decorations and flowers.
“It’s only happening once,” said committee member Jon Price, who dressed up as a Frenchman - complete with a string of onions - for the occasion. “This whole weekend has been absolutely superb. What a highlight for Yorkshire.”
Despite the colourful décor, the crowds were slow to come on Sunday morning as many hosted garden parties and barbecues the length of Knaresborough Road.
But as the caravan drew near and the shouts and horns from the cavalcade rang out across the town, families came in their droves to line the race route.
The roar from the crowd grew to fever pitch as three helicopters hovered overhead, the bells at St Andrew’s church ringing at full volume as the riders drew near.
Then, within seconds, it was over. The first breakaway whizzed through, followed shortly after by the remaining riders. But while the race was what everyone was waiting for, the celebrations didn’t stop there.
Huge crowds, enjoying the sunshine, soon gathered in Belmont Fields to watch the rest of the race and make the most of the fairground and festival feel.
And this celebration, said those gathered, is what will be remembered of the day the Tour de France rode through Starbeck.
“Most of the people here today are from Starbeck,” said Rev Francis Wainaina,of St Andrew’s Church.
““This is the best way for a community to celebrate. And that’s what the Tour de France has given us.”
ADDINGHAM welcomed the Tour de France for the second time, and the packed streets and cheering crowds showed that locals had taken the event to their hearts.
The crowds were bolstered by large numbers of Tour fans who had walked along the Dalesway -some wearing berets and large fake moustaches - from nearby Ilkley, and the line of fans stretched from Addingham over the moorland to Silsden. There was a multinational feel to the crowd on the road to Silsden, with the flags of South Africa, Greece, Wales and the Isle of Man vying to catch the competitors’ attention. Mexican waves kept people entertained while many in the crowd watched the road from Blubberhouses in the far distance through binoculars for a first sight of the riders. Others watched the Tour from the summit of Beamsley. There was one mishap as the Tour climbed the summit between Addingham and Silsden when one rider came off his bicycle after apparently clipping the wheel of a motorcycle carrying a photographer. Luckily, he was unhurt and went on his way, after some sharp words to the motorcyclist.