What a weekend! Spectators turned out in their thousands and lined the streets of towns and villages in Yorkshire to watch the first stage of the 101st Tour de France.
The sun was shining, the eyes of the world were on the district’s wonderful towns, villages and countryside, and there was a dramatic finish to Stage 1 of the Tour de France Yorkshire Grand Depart. Almost 200 cyclists took part in the first stage which passed through towns and villages including Otley, Skipton, Ilkley, Hawes, Leyburn and Ripon before a sprint finish in Harrogate saw Germany’s Kittel claim victory.
The riders were given a royal send-off by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry at Harewood House, near Leeds, on Saturday and the 118-mile (190km) stage was won by Marcel Kittel almost five hours later.
UK rider Mark Cavendish, who hoped to win the stage in his mother’s home town, crashed just yards from the finish and suffered a dislocated collarbone. Fellow Briton and 2013 Tour winner Chris Froome finished sixth.
This monumental cycling event is the biggest road race in the world; people flocked to the streets of Yorkshire from all across the globe to catch a snippet of the fastest men on two wheels thunder down the country roads of the Yorkshire Dales and through the picturesque towns and villages along the way.
Over the last few weeks the atmosphere has been electric and spirits were incredibly high on Saturday.
People along the route decorated their homes with flags and yellow bikes to mark the occasion, you don’t seem to past more than a few hundred yards until you see another painted bike sitting on a garden wall or upon a garage roof. The people of Harrogate were so enthusiastic about stage 1 of the race finishing in their home town; it is joyful to listen to the tone of excitement in their voice when you ask them if they are looking forward to the TDF being in the town they live.
I live in Harrogate and run Kitchen Warehouse UK Ltd in Ripon. Due to the race I was left with no option but to not open my showroom doors on Saturday, however, to be honest, I think it is superb that the roads I travel down on a daily basis were on millions of televisions across the world. It has really put Harrogate on the map.
Here’s hoping the Tour De France legacy long lives on in these smaller towns and villages and continues to bring happiness to those who live within them.