Top Yorkshire talent to deliver grandest of Tour de France send offs

An artist's impression of the Tour de France Team Presentation in Leeds
An artist's impression of the Tour de France Team Presentation in Leeds
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Behind the scenes of a Grand Depart arena extravaganza, a star-studded cast of world-leading creatives are building a show to remember.

Following the announcement of headline Yorkshire acts intended to make the Tour de France Team Presentation a memorable opening ceremony, including Brighouse indie band Embrace and Bradford’s Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh, a world-class cast of a different kind is working hard to make it all happen.

Yorkshire links will weave throughout the Leeds First Direct Arena ceremony on Thursday July 3, which promises to be the biggest ever in Le Tour’s 111-year history, with Sheffield Hallam University students, an award-winning lighting designer from Hull, staff from Opera North and film contributions from Leeds-based Shot by Sodium helping pull together a landmark event.

Directed by London’s 2012 Olympic head of ceremonies Martin Green, who spent time studying at the University of Leeds in the mid 1990s, the spectacle will showcase the riders from all 22 Tour teams before they take on the Yorkshire Grand Depart stages on July 5 and 6.

“We’re kicking off what is going to be an extraordinary weekend. It’s a real collaborative effort to make sure everyone knows we have world-class production facilities up here,” he said. “And when we came up to Yorkshire we didn’t have to look far to find the right people. It’s really easy to find world-class talent here.”

Embrace, who have had three number one albums, will head up the event alongside Kimberley Walsh and York singer-songwriter Alistair Griffin, who will duet for the Grand Depart anthem ‘The Road’. Leeds band Hope and Social, French singer Pauline Vassuer and Opera North will also perform at the event.

Among the behind-the-scenes experts is Durham Marenghi, the Hull-based lighting designer behind the Sochi Winter Paralympic opening and closing ceremonies in Russia, who is set to work on Hull City of Culture 2017.

He said: “I’m proud of my family’s Hull and Yorkshire roots and delighted to see the county will be front and centre when the Tour arrives, grabbing the world’s attention. We want to create an ‘I was there’ feel to proceedings and we’ve got a spectacular show planned.”

The YP has teamed up with Tour bid-winning tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire to reward the county’s best dressed villages, towns and cities/communities with tickets to the Team Presentation and best dressed plaques. Email a 500-word statement and three photographs to before 5pm on June 26. Visit for details.

Welcome to Yorkshire has already awarded two tickets to Huddersfield schoolboy Eddie Townend for his 14th birthday. He started cycling with the Streetbikes charity and has gone on to win the British Schools Cycling Association Yorkshire Circuit Championships in Bradford.

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