ONE of the country’s finest country houses is all set to be transformed into one of the country’s most picturesque campsites - with one of the best views of the world’s biggest annual sporting event.
Harewood House, north of Leeds, and its 1,000-acre estate will be home to up to 30,000 campers as the Tour de France visits in July.
Around 5,000 campers - from as far away as New Zealand and the United States - have already signed up.
The three-day festival promises to be a carnival atmosphere, with music, films, comedy and guided cycle rides to special vantage points on the route.
Yesterday Yorkshire’s own champion triathletes Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee backed the Dare 2b Yorkshire Festival of Cycling at Harewood House from July 4-6
The brothers, who live in nearby Bramhope, pedalled around the Estate which riders will use on Saturday, July 5, before heading to the Yorkshire Dales.
The brothers encouraged people to get on their bikes and get involved in participation events at the Festival, which is supported by the Yorkshire Evening Post as a media partner.
Alistair said: “It’s absolutely brilliant it’s coming to Yorkshire on roads that I ride every day, only a mile from my house. One of the big events is going on right here (Harewood House).
“It’s going to be filled with tents and stalls and all sorts of things for people to do - all encouraging people to be active, enjoy cycling, enjoy the Tour de France and build on the legacy.
“Today we went on a little spin. through to Emmerdale - the Emmerdale village set in only a few miles away on the (Harewood) Estate.
“The roads on the Estate are very good and the Tour de France route has been tarmacced asbolutely brilliantly, so there’s not an awful lot to worry about there.”
He said the Grand Depart in Yorkshire was already encouraging people to hop on a bike.
“I think the legacy has already started; I think cycling has been on the up for five or six years now, seeing people like Mark Cavendish doing well, then Wiggins and Chris Froome. It is incredible the difference in cycling.
“I see it every day on the roads, you see it even on a weekday, people out cycling; it’s incredible.”
He believes that the Yorkshire Festival of Cycling would help motivate people to cycle every day - and even consider cycling to work.
Jonathan said: “Tour de France goes on routes that you can go out now and ride on which is really imporant. It’s encouraging loads of people to cycle - cycing is a great sport and Yorkshire is the perfect county for it.
“The Tour de France is coming to Yorkshire so it a great opportunity for people to get on their bikes and I think it is going to have a great legacy for cycling in the county because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
He urged people not to be put off by traffic or potholes.
“There are quiet roads in Yorkshire without traffic - you can go on back roads. Some roads I cycle on for hours and you barely see a car. And potholes - as long as you go slow and have good kit, they shouldn’t be a problem.
“Cycling is one of those sports you can get out and do and the Tour de France is coming on roads just close to our houses so all you have to do is get out and go.”
*Details at www.festivalofcycling.org