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Tour de France Minus 21- Our round-up of the Grand Départ news (+ video)

Reporters tackle Tour's toughest climb three weeks ahead of big race plus other news...

With three weeks to go until the 101st edition of the Tour de France starts in Leeds, here's our latest round-up of news relating to this year's Grand Depart.

Sheffield newspaper sends reporters up Tour’s toughest climb

Sheffield-based newspaper The Star sent a couple of reporters out on their bikes to tackle the city’s Jenkin Road – the hill with a one in three gradient, the steepest that will be encountered in the three-week race, and which is the last climb of Stage 2.

You can see a video of how the two women got on here. At one point, a pillion passenger on a motorbike appears to yell “wankers” at them. It’s worth noting that while both cyclists are wearing helmets, which they're not obliged to do by law - unlike the rider of the motorbike and his passenger, neither of whom is sporting one.

It’s not the first time the reporter has suffered abuse while out on her bike. In a previous blog entry on the same page, she reveals that a pedestrian showered her with insults, including calling her a “cycling slag.”

She added: “I never expected this level of hatred, it was a surprise, and bear in mind I speak as a journalist."

Huddersfield hosts criterium on eve of Tour

The eve of the Grand Départ will see Huddersfield stage its first ever criterium, with riders taking part including Yorkshire lad – and double Olympic champion – Ed Clancy of Rapha Condor JLT.

The event, on the evening of Friday 4 July, is the brainchild of local bike shop owner Dave Sowerby, and Councillor Martyn Bolt, former Mayor of Kirklees and a keen cyclist who organises the Brian Robinson challenge.

They’re hoping the evening’s racing, which starts at 6pm with the men’s elite race setting off at 8pm, will attract fans in Yorkshire for the Tour de France, and it strikes us there are worse ways of spending a Friday evening if you’re in the area.

Here's a video of the route.

Ed Clancy signs up as ambassador to Yorkshire Building Society

Clancy has also been signed up as Yorkshire Building Society’s Ambassador of the Tour de France 2014 Grand Départ. The financial institution is an official supporter of the Grand Départ.

The Rapha Condor JLT rider said: “The Tour de France Grand Depart will be one of the biggest sporting events ever seen in Yorkshire and it will be great for cycling across the region and the UK.

“I’ll certainly be watching the world’s best bike race. The second stage passes within 100 metres of my front door. I’m planning on sitting in my back garden and watching the race go past and watching the other boys sweating it out for a change.”

“The Tour De France coming to Yorkshire is a fantastic opportunity to showcase our sport to a wider audience and I’m sure the public will love it as a spectacle and a competition.”

“Meet Maurice” nationwide tour

Nuffield Health, which is sponsoring the official Tour de France Fan Parks, is holding a nationwide road show ahead of the Grand Départ.

The Meet Maurice Tour will be in Stoke Poges today and St Albans tomorrow, then visits Edinburgh and Glasgow (17 June), Glasgow Giffnock and East Kilbride (18 June), Shipley and Bradford (20 June), Harrogate (21 June), Cottingley (22 June), Guiseley (23 June), Wakefield (24 June), Sheffield (25 June), Cambridge (26 June), Paddington (30 June), Covent Garden (2 July) and Bloomsbury (3 July).

You’ll be able to buy official Tour de France merchandise and race the pros in a “Catch me if you Cav” spinning competition. More details of the tour and the locations can be found here.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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