Tour de France Minus 17 - organisers promise Grand Départ will be “something special”

Also, Tour to get royal send-off, Rugby League star pedals across France, and win a bike (yellow paint optional)

by Simon_MacMichael   June 18, 2014  

TDF Yellow Bike (picture credit Bike Rescue Project)

With the 101st edition of the Tour de France is now little more than a fortnight away, here's our latest round-up of the news.

Organisers promise Grand Départ will be “something special”

Tdf Hub 2014 Limited, the government-backed company co-ordinating the delivery of the Grand Départ, last week promised that the three days of the race in Great Britain will be “something special.”

The promise was made in the third and final readiness report issued by the company which outlines the state of preparations, including making £100,000 available from a contingency fund to ensure the safety of some 60,000 spectators, as well as the riders, on the climb of Holme Moss in Yorkshire on Stage 1.

Its chair Sir Rodney Walker, said: “I am delighted to be able to say all of the plans are now in place and being refined and tested to deliver something special – an event which will be enjoyed by millions of people at the roadside and will showcase the very best of the UK to a massive global audience.

“An immense amount of work has been carried out to prepare for these historic three days, and we are confident that work will result in a fantastic occasion not to be forgotten,” he added.

According to the report, logistics involved with staging the event include putting in place more than 100 kilometres of barriers and fencing, 30,000 traffic cones, 5,000 road signs, 2,500 event management radios, over 2,000 temporary toilets and upwards of 70 kilometres of event bunting.

Minister for Sport and Tourism Helen Grant MP said: “Preparations to stage the start of the biggest cycle race in the world are in the home straight and I am pleased that everything is on track. The Grand Départ will be an unforgettable experience for millions, showcasing the best of Yorkshire, Cambridge, Essex and London.

“Not only will it help boost the economy, local tourism and businesses where the race passes through it will also leave a real legacy for the sport of cycling, inspiring more people to get involved. It has been a big team effort to get to this point and I know that everyone remains completely focused on putting on a fantastic event in three weeks’ time.”

Rugby League star riding from Perpignan to Leeds for Grand Départ

Rugby League great Keith Senior, who retired two years ago following a rugby league career that saw him play more than 500 games for Sheffield Eagles and Leeds Rhinos, is spending eight days riding from Perpignan in Frances Languedoc-Roussillon region to Leeds to raise money for charity.

Senior will be joined by five other cyclists on the Quest 14 ride, which begins this Sunday 22nd June. The final day will see them tackle the route of Stage 1 of the Tour de France from Leeds to Harrogate, before delivering the match ball to Headingley Stadium for that day’s Leeds Rhinos versus Catalans Dragons Super League clash.

Royalty on Tour

It has been confirmed by Kensington Palace that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as Prince Harry, will be at the opening stage of the Tour de France.

No doubt Mark Cavendish, who has his eyes on the yellow jersey that day, will be hoping that the royal support will have the same effect as it did at the London 2012 Olympics, where they watched Team GB dominate the track cycling at the velodrome.

There’s no news on whether the Duke and Duchess will bring along their tandem Boris Bike that the Mayor of London gave them as a wedding present.

The Duchess’s brother James and sister Pippa are currently engaged in their own gruelling cycling event – they Middleton siblings are riding the Race Across America as part of an eight-person team.

Video – Yorkshire Festival heads towards its climax

As the Yorkshire Festival, launched with 100 days to go until the start of the race, heads towards its climax, organisers have issued a video showing some of the highlights so far – including the spectacular Ghost Peloton.

There are still plenty of events happening before the Grand Départ, and you can find more details here.

Snap a Yellow Bike – and win one of your own

If you live in Yorkshire, or you’re visiting there for the Grand Départ, you’ll be bound to notice the yellow painted bikes that are sprouting up around the region as it prepares to host the race.

York-based charity, the Bike Rescue Project, has donated 100 of those hand it is offering a prize of a custom-built refurbished bike from its stock of bicycles and parts to the person taking the best photo of one.

Full details can be found here.