Tour de Yorkshire leaves spectators in a spin
York has seen some parties in it’s day. The decision to host a stage of the Tour de France proved, all in all, to be a hit. It put famous spa market town Harrogate on the global map; where cyclists concluded stage one. Yorkshire has been billed as ‘God’s own county’, and it’s fair to say his disciples hosted an event worthy of the biblical proportions.
Perhaps the biggest headline from the first day was Mark Cavendish, who dislocated his collarbone, 250 metres from the line in Harrogate as he attempted to gain an advantage for the gruelling journey from York to Sheffield.
Day two, and roads around York’s iconic Knavesmire racecourse, the destination for the start of the second stage, were plastered with chalked messages of support for ‘Cav’, as well as his teammate and fellow Brit, Chris Froome, odds-on at 5/6 to win the tour overall.
Inside the Knavesmire, a reception of 25,000 people awaited the cyclists to see them off, while an estimated 100,000 more people lined the streets of York to cheer the peloton on. The scene for the start of day two began under a cloud of uncertainty, literally and visually, as news filtered through to the crowds that Cavendish wouldn’t take part.
It was all about Froome, though, who looked calm and collected as he cycled down the concourse at the Knavesmire to sign the requisite documents. Fellow Briton 21-year-old Simon Yates, a Yorkshireman himself, hoped to use his knowledge of the hills he used to train on to give his teammate, Australian Simon Gerrans, a strategic advantage. Yates was greeted with adoration by a York crowd whose second nature is hospitality.
Although the second stage was eventually won by Italian Vincenzo Nibali, 8/1 to win overall, it brought the curtain down on what was a momentous weekend for the county of Yorkshire.
Froome summed up his experience, following his finish in Sheffield, which put him at sixth place overall, paying tribute to the Olympic-like support he received in the county: “It was really tough racing and the crowds were just incredible. I had goosebumps going up Holme Moss (Peak District),” said Froome, who was cheered on by many fans in Yorkshire.
“It was all about staying out of trouble and avoiding any major issues or big splits.”