The second stage of the Tour de France Grand Depart from Yorkshire embraces both the county’s rural beauty and urban sprawl.
The historic city of York, cobbled streets of Haworth, rolling hills of Bronte Country and industrial might of Sheffield will all witness the visit of the world’s greatest cycle race on Sunday July 6.
In preparation for Le Tour, a seven-man team led by Yorkshire Post photographer and experienced rider Bruce Rollinson has tackled sections of the strenuous 200km stage two route just weeks before Tour cyclists do the same.
The 55-year-old, who has road raced regionally and cycled cross-country nationally, filmed the group’s reccie of the York to Sheffield route on a handlebar-mounted camera to give our readers a taste of the ride.
He said: “Stage two has more urban and industrial landscape, and it features nearly as much climbing as a medium mountain day in the Tour de France.
“I never thought that the Tour would ever come here, I think the whole route is good and shows off what Yorkshire’s all about.”
Following the Grand Depart send off from York Racecourse, stage two ventures through York, Knareborough, Harrogate and Addingham, before rolling down through Keighley and the South Pennines.
Riders will tackle a series of testing climbs including Cragg Vale and Holme Moss before arriving in Sheffield.
Having taken on the route, Bruce and his team have offered their advice on the cycling highlights of the July 6 ride in a specially created web video.
John Hopkinson, who took part in the preview ride, said: “I think it’s going to throw up a few surprises for the riders, they’re not used to the short punchy climbs that we get around here so I think it might spice the second day of the Tour up.”
One of the highlights of stage two is the fact that Tour riders will cycle up the cobbled Haworth Main Street.
The historic village, famed for its association with the Bronte sisters, will present a terrain of a different kind to Tour cyclists.
Bruce said: “The narrow cobbled street represents a different challenge, you’ve got to go fast, as the faster you go the more comfortable it is, and if you stand as you pedal you can start to lose traction.
“Riders do go up it but you should be aware that it’s often busy, which can make things difficult.”
Known for being the longest continuous incline in the country, Cragg Vale slowly reaches its 1,260ft summit following a lengthy stretch out of Mytholmroyd, east of Hebden Bridge.
Over a distance of more than 5 miles, cyclists face a relatively steady gradient of around 3 per cent for the most part.
Bruce said: “It’s got the longest continuous gradient in the country. It is quite steady, the gradient compares to that of an alpine climb but rather than being hairpinned it is straight.
“We went up at a continuous speed – we probably averaged about 12 to 14mph.”
The climb to the summit of Holme Moss starts down in Huddersfield and climbs 1,440ft over 16km. Following the valley of the River Holme the gradients kick in at Holmebridge.
Expected to be a busy viewpoint for Tour spectators during stage two, Holme Moss climbs at an average gradient of around 7 per cent, but is double that near its summit.
Bruce said: “It’s the hardest of the climbs on stage two. It steepens and there is a hairpin halfway up, then it ramps up a little bit. It is quite a long climb as you’re gradually climbing from Holmfirth and it doesn’t steepen up until Holmbridge.
“There is a very fast descent off the top with Pennine moorland views, there’s quite a nice view of the reservoir at Woodhead up there.”
Jenkin Road, Sheffield
Near the end of the stage two route, Jenkin Road is being billed as providing a late sting in the tail for Tour de France competitors this summer.
A sharp bend and short, steep climb that hits an incredibly steep 33 per cent at its most challenging could split the men from the boys at the end of the July 6 stage.
From its summit there is a short but bumpy descent followed by a few flat kilometres to the finish line outside the English Institute for Sport.
Bruce said: “There is a handrail on the pavement which tells you how steep it is. It’s on the edge of urban Sheffield and cycling-wise is probably similar to Belgian climbs in the classics because of where it is in the city.”