الخميس , مايو 27 2021

Tour de France to get royal send-off

Grand Depart in Yorkshire signThe Tour de France Grand Depart takes place in Yorkshire on Saturday and Sunday

The 101st Tour de France, which begins in Yorkshire later, will be given a royal send-off by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Almost 200 riders will leave Leeds Town Hall on Saturday morning and head for Harewood House where they will also be greeted by a Red Arrows fly-past.

Up to two million people are due to line the route with many roads shut across the county.

The 190km (118-mile) first stage will finish in Harrogate around 16:30 BST.

Months of planning and preparation have been put into making sure the event gets a good start.

The 21-stage, 3,664km (2,277-mile) race starts in Leeds at 11:10 BST on Saturday with the second stage running from York to Sheffield and the third from Cambridge to London before 18 more stages culminate in the French capital on 27 July.

It is the fourth time the Tour has crossed La Manche (The English Channel).

Tour de France Grand Depart route markers in YorkshireThe route of the Grand Depart in Yorkshire has been marked for cyclists to follow in the future

In 1974 and 1994 it paid fleeting visits and in 2007 London hosted the start, known as the Grand Depart, which is now in Yorkshire where huge crowds have been gathering for several days.

Nymph in Leeds City CentreA statue of a nymph in Leeds’ City Square is one of several city landmarks to be turned yellow for the race

Four of the 198 riders to take to the start line are British, with Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome, who are two of the main protagonists, joined by Geraint Thomas and Simon Yates.

Mark Cavendish, whose mother Adele is from Harrogate, has attempted to play down his focus on taking the race leader’s yellow jersey in the town for the first time in his career, but there is no doubt it is his major goal.

The rider from the Isle of Man was once accustomed to visiting his grandparents in the spa town.

Relative to the mountain stages the riders will face in France, the opening stage has been described as flat, but it is up and down all day and the sprinters’ teams could face challenging conditions if showers slicken the twisting Dales roads.

The stage begins on The Headrow in Leeds, with a “neutralised procession” to the official start at Harewood House, where the race start will be seen by the royal party and the riding will begin in earnest.

The race’s first categorised climb, the Cote de Cray – the ascents have been given French prefixes – comes 68km (42 miles) into the day’s racing and the Cote de Buttertubs and Cote de Grinton Moor follow, with the summit of the latter 61km (40 miles) from the finish line.

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