Camper vans welcome in Dales car parks, says National Park boss

Organisers of the first two stages of the Tour de France, which start in Leeds and York on July 5 and 6 respectively, have announced the locations of 17 spectator hubs.

The hubs will be free to enter and will have big screens showing the race, plus refreshments and entertainment.

Locations on the opening stage include Scott Hall Playing Fields in Leeds, Pool in Wharfedale, and Otley town centre. As the race hits the Yorkshire Dales, fans will be able to watch the action at the National Park Centres at Grassington, Hawes and Aysgarth Falls.

National Park Authority Chairman Peter Charlesworth said:  “This year is the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Tour de France is the icing on the birthday cake.

“We are expecting around 400,000 people in the National Park for the eventand we are working with landowners, farmers and businesses who will be opening temporary campsites and car parks to accommodate them.

“In addition, we normally do not allow overnight stays in our car parks butwe will be relaxing the rule in the week leading up to the Grand Depart sothat people in campervans will have somewhere to park up.”

The spectator hubs are in addition to the race start points at the Headrow in Leeds, York Racecourse and Parker’s Piece in Cambridge.

Sheffield’s Don Valley Bowl, with a capacity of 40,000, is expected to be the biggest spectator hub of the Grand Départ as the race heads for Sheffield from Harrogate on stage two.

Sir Rodney Walker, chair of TdF HUB 2014 Ltd, said: “People can now start planning where they want to spend their day and take advantage of the facilities on offer which include big screens, food and entertainment.

“Whether you want to cheer on your favourite riders or spend the day with your family, there’s something for everyone. I have no doubt they will contribute to the success of this event.”

Leeds City Council said it expected the hubs to be popular.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member for leisure at Leeds City Council, said: “Our key message for all spectators will be choose where you want to be, get there early and make a day of it celebrating what is sure to be an amazing ‘I was there’ moment for Leeds.”

The full list of spectator hubs for the first two stages, and the days they will be in operation, is:

Tour de France Spectator Hubs
Aysgarth, National Park Visitor Centre July 5
Grassington, National Park Centre July 5
Harrogate, West Park July 3-6
Hawes, National Park Visitor Centre July 5
Haworth, Central Park July 5 & 6
Holmfirth, Sands Recreation Ground July 5 & 6
Huddersfield, St Georges Square July 5 & 6
Ilkley, Riverside Gardens July 3-6
Keighley, Victoria Park July 5 & 6
Knaresborough Castle July 5 & 6
Leeds Scott Hall Playing Fields July 5
Leeds The Headrow July 5
Leyburn Market Place July 5
Otley Town Centre July 5
Sheffield Coronation Park July 6
Sheffield Don Valley Bowl July 6
Skipton High Street July 5
York Designer Outlet July 6
York Racecourse July 3-7

For more informaiton see letour.yorkshire.com.

Details of spectator hubs in London are due to be announced this week.

Four London locations have already been announced for Tour de France Fan Parks at Green Park, Trafalgar Square, Olympic Park, and Canary Wharf.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.