Tour de France: Greatest feat of sporting endurance...and it’s here

Omega Pharma ' Quick-Step rider Mark Cavendish (4th right) during a training ride with team mates near Sheffield
Omega Pharma ' Quick-Step rider Mark Cavendish (4th right) during a training ride with team mates near Sheffield
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When Yorkshire won the bid to host part of Le Tour de France a year-and-a-half ago, the news was greeted with a mixture of joy and shoulder-shrugging lack of interest.

Back then, there were many who didn’t realise just how big the event was, even though Britian had begun to stand tall amongst the sport’s elite on a regular basis with Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome, among others leading the way.

Adela Carter

Adela Carter

Now, the hype that has surrounded the upcoming arrival of our gallic friends and those from even further afield, means there is no one in Sheffield who shouldn’t realise the enormity of this feat of sporting endurance.

Of course, there are those, who quite legitimately, will see it as a disruption, with roads closed all across the city for our two-wheeled heroes.

However, like the Olympics a couple of years ago, this is likely to be a once in a generation experience and we in Sheffield should grasp the opportunity to revel in the festivities that are surrounding the arrival of Le Tour.

And for those who are wondering what all the fuss about, cyclist and strength & conditioning coach for EIS Sheffield & Sheffield Hallam University, Adela Carter explains.

“All the great riders want to peak at the tour. The marketing has been superb,” she says.

“It is a sport where you can physically touch your idols. It’s free, it goes through people’s communities. It goes through people’s local roads.

“The local cycling community train on those roads - you don’t often get to train at Wembley,” Adela, right, adds. “So you have a physical connection to the land. Because it is going through a community, it doesn’t have to be those from a cycling community that are involved.

“The whole village, or town or city gets out and can see people who are doing something that is so much harder than anything they can envisage themselves in their patch.

“It’s an exciting time.

“The Tour is bigger than the sport itself. It’s a cultural event.

“In France it’s quite an honour to be involved, so villages and town vie for this and we have seen this. It’s all about showing off.

“It’s three days in Yorkshire, but it’s three weeks in total.

“It’s about six hours racing a day, resting, recovery, warming up...then you have press in that as well - it’s tough.

“People sometimes don’t realise that so if you equate it to something local, say for instance the Coast-to-Coast, people attempt that in a day or two. These guys are doing almost the equivalent almost every day for three weeks.”

“That’s how tough it is.”