The Tour de France starts in Britain this weekend and Sean Moriarty has the low down on the best places to watch.
Stage One: Leeds to Harrogate
The Tour de France started in Leeds on July 4. As last year when Marcel Kittel pulled on the yellow jersey when Le Tour started in Corsica, can ‘Manx the Missile’ Mark Cavendish do the same on home ground? The British sprinter must be one of the favourites to take the stage win. First of all, he is on home ground, and in front of his home crowds. Second, the stage finishes a stone’s throw away from where his mother used to live. And finally, he has never worn the fabled yellow jersey. The Yorkshire Dales National Park is the place to be next Saturday but it is possible to see the stage start in Leeds and the finish in Harrogate.
Stage Two: York to Sheffield
Day two runs from York to Sheffield but the layout of the stage resembles something more often found on the Liége-Bastone-Liége. Expect front-runners like Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde to set the pace – a bad result here will have a knock on effect later in the race. On this terrain, Slovakian rider Peter Sagan, another overall title favourite, is expected to sit this one out as the hills in West Yorkshire will not suit his style.
It is seven years since Le Tour visited in London. On that occasion the British capital provided the background for the opening day time trial and a road stage from Westminster to Dover. Much has changed in that time and, now seven years on the world’s most famous cycle race will pass London’s Olympic Stadium en-route to a finish in the shadows of Buckingham Palace. It may be a Monday but expect the city to come to a standstill at the finish of the 155km stage from Cambridge.