الخميس , مايو 20 2021

Le Tour starts with royal send-off

Spain’s Alberto Contador leads out the ceremonial procession ahead of the start of the Tour de France

The 101st Tour de France is under way in Yorkshire after riders received a royal send-off from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Thousands of people gathered in Leeds for the ceremonial start with up to two million expected across the county.

The race officially started at 12:00 BST at Harewood House after the 198 riders rode in a “neutralised procession” from Leeds Town Hall.

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

Mark Cavendish (left) and 2013 Tour winner Chris Froome (right) share a few words during the procession

Up to two million are expected to turn out to watch the race as it wends its way through Yorkshire

The royal party met the riders at Harewood House where they were also be greeted by a Red Arrows fly-past.

George Hughes, who joined the crowds outside the Town Hall together with his wife and children, said: “It’s tremendous. It’s going to be fantastic for Leeds and Yorkshire. It’s just amazing. I hope it will come back again. It’s something to remember for the rest of our lives.”

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



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Jenny Hill reports from the start line of the Tour de France in Leeds

The 21-stage, 3,664km (2,277-mile) race started in Leeds 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).

In 1974 and 1994 it included stages in Britain and in 2007 London hosted the start, known as the Grand Depart.

A 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 are British, with Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome, who are two of the main contenders, 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 a 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 roads in the Dales.

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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