Popular viewing points ready to welcome thousands for Le Tour

Chris Froome (front right) rides alongside Richie Porte  as the Sky riders climb the cobbled hill at Haworth. Picture by John Giles/PA Wire
Chris Froome (front right) rides alongside Richie Porte as the Sky riders climb the cobbled hill at Haworth. Picture by John Giles/PA Wire
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There is just one week to go until the world’s greatest cyclists lineup on Leeds’ Headrow for the start of the Tour de France Grand Depart at 11.10am.

A global audience of 3bn people are expected to tune in to watch Yorkshire’s two Tour stages as around 3m people descend on the region to witness the race’s once-in-a-lifetime arrival.

As the countdown continues, residents are finalising plans for where they will be for the spectacle. Leeds is the first of many hubs for cycling fans and those there to soak up the atmosphere, with other start or finish points of Harrogate, York and Sheffield proving the most popular spots.

Official free-ticketed spectator hubs, featuring big screens, catering and entertainment, will host a combined 45,000 expectant fans split between The Headrow startline and Eastgate, Regent Street and Sheepscar South in Leeds, before riders cycle up past a further 10,000 people gathered at the Scott Hall playing fields hub.

Leader of Leeds City Council Coun Keith Wakefield said: “Leeds is immensely proud to be the host city for this incredible global event and we are ready to welcome the world.”

After the riders power out of Leeds, they will arrive at the Harewood Estate at 12noon, where the cyclists will lineup on the drive outside Harewood House for stage one’s ceremonial start and a symbolic Red Arrows flypast.

The grand estate is set to host the Dare 2b Yorkshire Festival of Cycling from July 4 to 6, which will see cycling names including Otley-born Olympian Lizzie Armitstead and 2006 Tour winner Oscar Pereiro appear alongside a shopping expo, entertainment, big screens, Army and RAF-run activities, a Battle of Britain memorial flight and cycling trials.

Stage one snakes through the Wharfe Valley and Skipton before heading through the Dales and the three categorised stage climbs of Kidstones Pass, Buttertubs Pass and Grinton Moor.

National park centres in Grassington, Aysgarth and Hawes will cater to rural spectators at free hubs nearby, while music festivals such as the King of the Mountains Festival in Muker will offer an alternative.

Harrogate’s West Park Stray will witness the finish and there the Yorkshire Tour’s only official Velo-Go Go Fan Park will cater to over 20,000 spectators.

Around 20,000 tickets to stage two’s York Racecourse send off sold out within four hours back in January but the historic city has three other hubs at Huntington Stadium, York Designer Outlet and Rowntree Park featuring everything from cycle stunt shows to stalls and big screens.

Coun Sonja Crisp, City of York Council’s cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism, said: “Besides being based at the hubs, people can line the route to the race and the full procession, they can head to York’s city centre for all the fun events and activities we’re laying on.”

The main stage two features, such as the Haworth cobbles and the Cragg Vale and Holme Moss climbs could be among the most exciting places to watch the race, with thousands expected to be within walking distance packing hubs at Haworth, Hebden Bridge Calder Homes Park and Holmfirth’s Sands Recreation Ground. The second stage comes to an end near Don Valley, with fans converging at spectator zones at Oughtibridge, Meadowhall and the finish line itself.

Visit letour.yorkshire.com for more on where to watch Le Tour.