Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Tour de France fever spills into Lancashire from across the Pennines

"Le Tour" licks off in Yorkshire next month. Image: Yorkshire County Council
The "Grand Depart" for the 2014 Tour de France might be starting in Yorkshire, but Lancashire is getting in on the act, if only to offer support.

Lancashire County Council advising people to plan ahead if they want to watch it, or travel nearby, when the race begins in under two weeks' time.

The first two stages of the world's biggest cycle race will take place in the Pennine areas close to the Lancashire-Yorkshire border on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th July with disruption expected as hundreds of thousands of people gather to enjoy the spectacle.

The route does not involve roads in Lancashire and there are no planned road closures in the county like there are in Yorkshire, but there are many points very close to Lancashire where the race can be seen

Many of the roads across the border will be closed to people travelling into Yorkshire from very early in the morning. Disruption is expected on nearby roads, and trains will be very busy.

"Le Tour" jumpers in miniature. Image: Harrogate Council

Yorkshire has embraced "Le Tour" with huge enthusiasm, with yellow bicycles 'dressing' buildings across the county and some 20,000 woollen mini-jumpers knitted and on display in towns along the route (except in Masham, where the local council took them down for health and safety reasons...)

The Keighley and Worth Valley Steam Railway is expecting record passenger numbers. Image: John Freeman

While the road closures have dismayed many drivers, train companies who will offer the only means to get around the county in areas affected are overjoyed, although the Keighley and Worth Valley Steam Railway are still trying to work out how they will be able to print the expected thousands of tickets using their antiquated 1950s ticket machines.

Travel on Sunday 6th July will be particularly affected. For most of the day, the only available roads to the east of the area where the stage will be held will be the A66 to the north and the M62 which crosses the race. These roads are expected to be very busy.

Lancashire County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "This is a great opportunity for people to cheer on some of the best cyclists in the world at the Tour de France.

"We're expecting lots of people from Lancashire to go and see the race, but to avoid disappointment, we'd advise you to set off early and head for one of the spectator points on the route.

"It's best to decide where you would like to see the race and ensure you plan your journey. The 'spectator hubs' along the route will have other events taking place which will help pass the time waiting for the race.

"This is a superb, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I'd encourage people to visit our website to make sure they don't miss any of the action."

• The official site for Le Grand Depart is at:

• People planning to watch the tour can download a spectator guide and pick up useful travel tips by visiting and searching for 'Tour de France'

Details of the race route are as follows:

Day One, Saturday 5th July: Leaves Leeds and after passing through Skipton completes a loop round the Yorkshire Dales ending in Harrogate.

Day Two, Sunday 6th July: Starts on the famous York Race Course and after a circuit of York heads back to Harrogate before turning south for Keighley, Hebbden Bridge and Huddersfield before finishing in Sheffield.

Keighley and Worth Valley Steam Railway will be operating a special intensive train service in connection with the Tour de France event. The Race will pass through the Keighley and the Worth Valley on Sunday 6th July and Haworth Park has been designated as an event “hub” by the Tour organisors. Please note that most roads in and around the Valley are closed on the Sunday.

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