Weekend the whole world looked to Yorkshire
IT WAS, quite simply, the weekend when the eyes of the world turned to Yorkshire.
More than 2,000 journalists supplied news to hundreds of television channels, radio stations, newspapers and websites across the globe while millions of people fixed their attention to the White Rose County for the greatest race on earth.
And, while the Tour de France will always be the proud property of its host nation, French media seemed quietly impressed with the way Yorkshire handled proceedings for the inaugural two stages.
Sports paper L’equipe focused primarily on Mark Cavendish’s crash and resultant withdrawal from the race.
“For the first time since 2008, Mark Cavendish leaves the Tour without any stage victory,” it said.
Fellow French newspaper Le Monde also eulogised about the size of the crowds and said some of the climbs were worthy of the mountain stages of le Tour.
Referring to the “huge popular success of the first stage of the Tour de France” it said: “Hundreds of thousands of people massed along the roads in the village crossings in the three climbed mounted sections.
“It was an atmosphere worthy of mountain stages.
“Even the slightest bump and any passing over a stone bridge turned into an epic moment of cycling.”
News broadcaster France 24 also had praise for the crowds but noted the palpable disappointment when “local favourite” Mark Cavendish crashed 300 metres from the finish line, leaving Marcel Kittel to win the first stage.
“The Tour de France hit the roads of Yorkshire on Saturday, with the county – and much of Britain, it seemed – taking to the streets to cheer the cyclists on,” it said on its website.
“Long before the roll-out in front of Leeds’ Town Hall, the streets were packed with fans.
“Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said that the photogenic qualities of Yorkshire – as he put it, a “très belle région” – had certainly helped attract the Tour.
Over the other-side of the world, the Sydney Morning Herald, reported again the vast sizes of the crowds.
“We have heard all year in the build-up to the Tour de France starting in Yorkshire about how strong the support will be for the early stages,” it said.
“But I wasn’t prepared for the size of the crowds that we saw on stage one.
“The number of people was at a level you don’t experience at a normal Test.
“Many of the riders were saying they had never raced before such masses of people, especially climbing up the Cote de Buttertubs midway into the stage.
The New York Times paid tribute to the county’s spectacular scenery, saying: “Yorkshire, the largest county in England, has paid richly for the right to host the Tour.
“The peloton sped by ruined abbeys and sights like the 14th-century Bolton Abbey, near Leyburn, before finishing in Harrogate, which is known for its spas.”