I am a cyclist and as the nights draw in, and my beloved Bianchi bike is returned to its winter hibernation in the garage, I began to think about the fabulous summer weather we have been treated to in Sheffield.
This started me thinking about that wonderful day in July, when the magical Tour de France came to the city.
Being a big fan of the race I was sceptical of the proposed route for stage 2 (The Steel Stage), especially the final stages.
What with the demolition of Don Valley and the uncertainty surrounding neighbouring areas it’s been a torrid time for Burngreave and Fir Vale recent ly. I was concerned how our great city would be portrayed. After all the splendour and beauty of Holme Moss, and the romantically renamed Côte d’ Oughtibridge, and Côtede Bradfield, the organisers had the temerity to take the race into the City’s run-down East End. Suicide surely?
My family and I were encamped just over the summit of the Côte de Bradfield and witnessed the sheer magnitude of the show, the roads being painted in honour of current greats Contador and Froome, the missing Sir Bradley Wiggins, the dearly departed but never forgotten “Il Pirata” Marco Pantani. One brilliant Tarmac comment I saw on Kirk Edge Road read “RELAX BOYS….. JENKIN HILL IS COMING SOON”.
At around 4pm on that Sunday, Sheffield had a ringside seat for the greatest show on earth, the world watched in awe at the size of the crowds. The winding gradient of the Côte de Jenkin Hill proved to be the final frontier, and as the race hurtled past Meadowhall and to the finishing straight at Broughton Lane it was Italian Vincenzo Nibali who won and ultimately three weeks later, the Maillot Jaune in Paris.
For three wonderful days Le Tour was in England. Those of us who watched from the roadside were witness to something that we will probably never see in this region again. If you weren’t there why weren’t you there? It was free for goodness sakes!
On that sunny day in July I was there in my city beneath the eyes of the world at the greatest show on earth.
Vive Le Tour!
Vive Le Steel City!