Yellow bikes have been appearing across many Yorkshire villages and towns in preparation for the Tour De France Grand Départ, and we couldn't be any more excited!
Stage 1 will depart from Leeds winding through Skipton, Grassington, Hawes, Buttertubs Pass, Leyburn, Ripon and ending in Harrogate – a total of 190km. Stage 2 takes place the next day leaving from York passing through Knaresborough, Keighley, Hebden Bridge, Huddersfield and finishing in Sheffield at 201km. Full routes can be found here.
Spectators are advised to arrive 2-3 hours before the riders actually pass through to experience the 180-vehicle strong publicity caravan. Similar to that of the London 2012 Torch Relay it’s packed with sponsors dishing out free goodies - this year's event includes 60,000 packets of Haribo (from local Pontefract) and 5,000,000 tea bags from Taylors of Harrogate
Chris Froome – Back to defend his 2013 victory with Team Sky but without his sometimes-fraught relationship with 2012 champion, Bradley Wiggins, after it was announced he wouldn’t be competing.
Mark Cavendish - The ‘Manx Missile’ competes again to hopefully add to his 25 stages wins, the most of any active rider. A case of bronchitis saw him miss out on the elusive Yellow Jersey, but the organisers made stage 1 a sprint race ending in his mother’s hometown of Harrogate – so it may be in reach this year.
Alberto Contador – The most decorated racer in his generation with two Tour De France titles under his belt makes him a tough contender. The Spaniard is, however, being watched closely after his 2010 title was stripped from him after a doping violation.
Marcel Kittel – The German powerhouse that beat Cavendish’s four-year winning streak down the Champs-Elysees, definitely one to watch in the sprint stages.
And if you fancy your own Tour contest, check out Strava’s Rahpa Rising: Three Ranges challenge where participants are givien the gargantuan task of climbing 8,800m (28,871ft) in nine days. The elevation is a combination of three stages from the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales, lengthy slopes of the Alps and the barbaric gradients of the Pyrenees. The challenge starts on 19th July and ends 27th July, so don’t get peddling up those hills just yet!
(Written by James Donnelly)