Sky riders take to the streets for traffic-free tour of city centre

THOUSANDS of cyclists are preparing to saddle up on a traffic-free section of the Tour de France route for an activity-filled Father’s Day.

Matt Crampton, Kimberley Walsh and Ben Swift launching last year's Sky Ride on The Headrow, Leeds. Picture by James Hardisty

The second annual Leeds Sky Ride will allow residents to take to the same stretch of Leeds city centre’s Headrow on Sunday June 15 that the world’s greatest riders will begin their quest for the Yellow Jersey on this summer.

Tour cyclists including Chris Froome will roll into action outside Leeds Art Gallery to start the Leeds to Harrogate stage one of the Grand Depart on Saturday July 5.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Ahead of the world-famous Tour, Leeds cyclists can enjoy a new traffic-free 6.5km loop around the city that will also take in Leeds’ First Direct Arena, the University of Leeds and a festival and entertainment area at Woodhouse Moor.

Among the crowds of two-wheeled participants will be members of Chapeltown-based community engagement organisation Black Health Initiative (BHI), which runs its City Riderz cycling group mainly for fathers and sons.

Heather Nelson, BHI chief executive, said: “The Riderz are ecstatic that their group which is made up from individuals from diverse backgrounds and often feel excluded are included not only in this particular city ride but one that is connected to the Tour de France via part of the route. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience which can be shared by the family.”

The inaugural Sky Ride Leeds saw 8,500 riders cycle around the city last year. They were joined by popstar and Sky Ride ambassador Kimberley Walsh, Team Sky’s Ben Swift and CB cyclist Matt Crampton.

This year’s event will also allow riders to enjoy an alternative shorter route for young children and families, riders with adapted bikes and those new to cycling.

Leeds City Council’s lead member for leisure and skills Coun Lucinda Yeadon said: “With the day falling on Father’s Day so it would be great to see even more families coming along and taking part.

“The event also offers the once-in-a-lifetime chance to say you rode a part of the route of the Tour de France three weeks before the best riders in the world come to the city for the incredible Grand Depart, so sign up now for what will be another wonderfully exciting day.”

The event is one of 14 to be held nationally and is part of a continuing partnership between Leeds City Council, British Cycling, Sky and West Yorkshire Metro which aims to encourage more people to get cycling.

A series of 50 free guided Sky Ride Local bike rides will take place around Leeds this summer.

Visit to register for a free place or for details.