AFTER the recent coverage of the successful Tour de France bid, I believe that the enormity of this achievement for the cities of Sheffield, Leeds and York, has yet to hit home.
The Tour de France is not just any old bike race, it is one of the world’s greatest sporting events and runs annually, over three weeks in July. It is cycling’s equivalent to football’s World Cup and every professional team and rider wants to take part.
The Tour traditionally starts outside France each year, most often in the flatter countries of northern Europe, like Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, to name three. To have two Tour ‘départs’ take place in Britain within seven years is fantastic, particularly as Britain was not traditionally known for its cycling prowess.
Cities and towns in France wait for years to host a stage start or finish and we have two of each in Yorkshire in 2014.
I also think that for Sheffield to get a stage finish is even more incredible.
I remember the Tour of Britain coming to a troubled end on a rain-soaked stage finish when the then world champion got stuck in traffic towards the end of the stage, as the roads were reopened early.
So come on Sheffield and Yorkshire, let’s make it two days to remember for the right reasons.
As a cyclist, I have watched the Tour on TV or at the side of the road for over 25 years.
In France, each town the race passes through treats it as a holiday. Is that too much to hope for here?
Yes, full road closures do cause inconvenience to drivers, but this is a once- in-a-lifetime event and one that I believed would never happen. And all in a city where the Olympic legacy that was sold to us not so long ago, when London won the 2012 Olympics, now seems to mean that Sheffield sports centres and stadia are under threat of closure.
If you’ve not caught a bag of sweets, a cycling cap or other sponsor’s goods thrown from a promotional motorcade travelling at around 35 miles an hour, then you haven’t lived. It turns us all into young kids again. The Tour is coming. See it. Love it!
Geoff Noake, Queen Street, Eckington, Sheffield, S21