For months Yorkshire has been abuzz with Tour de France fever – and who can blame us? The prestigious month-long contest is the most watched annual sporting in the world, and a spectacle to behold when it whizzes by. When the second leg of the grand depart sets off in York on Sunday 6th July the riders will be in the historic city for little more than 15 minutes, but the party atmosphere that’s engulfed the region won’t be leaving quite as quickly!
From Leeds to Harrogate, York to Sheffield, with a whole load of moors and dales in between, what the Yorkshire Grand Depart amply demonstrates is that the county is perhaps the most diverse and attractive in the country; it’s in no small part due to the attention of the Tour that Yorkshire was named the world’s third best travel destination by Lonely Planet for 2014.
Cyclists from around the country have descended on Yorkshire to give the route a go, the gruelling stretches – 190km from Leeds to Harrogate, 200km from York to Sheffield – offering a taste of what Chris Froome and company will experience. The Team Sky rider will hope that home advantage counts as he begins the defence of his Tour crown.
Organisers hope that, aside from a fleeting glimpse of the world’s greatest cycling event, visitors to Yorkshire will get the chance to appreciate the county’s greatest sights and attractions during their stay. As well as enjoying the divine contemporary restaurants in Leeds, and the traditional tea room at Betty’s in Harrogate, spectators can delight in watching the tour pass the famous landmarks of both cities; down the Headrow in Leeds, and past the impressive Turkish Baths in Harrogate. Other highlights of the first leg’s route through the rest of the county include the gorgeous Ripley Castle, Ripon Cathedral and Kirkstall Abbey too, all well worth a visit if you’re spectating!
On the Sunday, the backdrop becomes no less impressive. As the cyclists make their way through York, they’ll pass many of the iconic sights that make it one of the most visited in Britain; York Racecourse, the Jorvik Viking Centre, The Shambles and the stunning York Minster all get a look in. The tour passes through Bradford and its unique city park, before winding its way through the Peak District and finishing for the night in Sheffield. If you haven’t managed to book a break in Yorkshire during the Tour, be sure to be inspired by the Grand Depart’s beautiful setting, and come later in the year anyway!
Hotel rooms sold like hot cakes when it was first announced that the tour would be coming to Yorkshire – the Tour de France is the world’s biggest free sporting event, and around two million spectators are expected to line the route through Yorkshire!
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