Tour de France Grand Depart diary
- 16 May 2014
- From the section England
With the world's biggest bike race starting in Leeds on 5 July, BBC Yorkshire's Tour de France correspondent Matt Slater rounds up the best of the gossip, opinion and stories, on and off the bike, and also tries to explain some of cycling's unique lingo.
As tweeted on Thursday, Tour fever has taken hold in Langsett. Pete Sparks, the owner of the Bank View Café, has spent much of the last week painting red polka dots on the side of the aforementioned establishment. The result might look like a culinary plague house, but it is in fact a tribute to the King of the Mountains jersey, the maillot a pois worn by the race's top climber. And just for good measure, Pete has painted the front door yellow. Given the response to my picture of Pete's handiwork, he may need to make some more flapjacks, although some cycling aficionados will see this as further evidence of a worrying trend amongst would-be Kings of the Mountain. The jersey is enough; leave the spotty bike, glasses, shorts and socks in the team garage.
Full story: The Star
Following on from another story we have covered, cycling campaigners in Yorkshire are joining like-minded people across the UK in protesting for safer roads on Saturday. Hundreds of riders will gather in Leeds, Sheffield and York at noon to call on local authorities to make good on promises to create a cycling legacy from Le Tour's visit. That means making our cities and towns a lot more bike-friendly. Cycling to school, the shops or work will remain the preserve of the very brave, or uber-fit, for as long as the perception remains that our roads are too dangerous.
Full story: The Yorkshire Post
A new imperial measure can be added to the list made popular by newspapers over the years (football fields, London buses and so on), the average crowd for a Huddersfield Town game at the John Smith's Stadium. A crowd of FOUR Terriers home gates, or 60,000 souls, is expected to watch the Tour de France climb Holme Moss on Sunday 6 July. West Yorkshire Police are "controlling emergency provisions" on the day and Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Team will be on hand to help the matchday stewards.
Full story: The Huddersfield Daily Examiner
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"This is to be Yorkshire's year. In July, the Tour de France will begin in Leeds, a pairing that might once have had Tony Hancock in stitches..."
Fleet Street legend Simon Jenkins lists the Grand Depart in a column for The Guardian that only half-jokingly advocates independence for God's Own County.
Last week, Sir Bradley Wiggins made the kind of quotable, throwaway remark that makes him so much fun to follow around as a journalist. The cycling knight said his decision to ride the Tour of California this week over the more prestigious Giro d'Italia was "an obvious choice". He listed the better weather, shorter length and improving fields as his reasons, neglecting to mention any Giro experiences that might have coloured his opinion against the world's second biggest bike race.
Be that as it may, Wiggo was on to something with the weather. While he enjoys California's spring sunshine and bone-dry roads, riders at the Giro are going down like nine-pins on southern Italy's rain-lashed roads. Thursday saw the craziest day yet, with more than half the field crashing at a roundabout 10km from the finish in Montecassino. Joaquin Rodriguez, one of the favourites, was the most prominent casualty, breaking a thumb and two ribs. He is now out and will be desperately trying to recover in time to try again at Le Tour. That will not be an option for his teammate Angel Vicioso, who broke his leg.
Current leader Michael Matthews and Australian compatriot Cadel Evans were in a small band of riders to stay upright, and Matthews won the stage. Evans was the big gainer, though, as he put time into all his main rivals for overall victory. Some might say he should not have profited from the misfortune of others, but he can say others have not waited for him in the past. Cycling etiquette can be a slippery customer, too.
A TO Z OF LE TOUR
I is for…
Intermediate sprint - A race within each day's race that comes at around the halfway point, it is usually contested by the best sprinters, with the aim of winning points for the green jersey competition. This year, the first rider across the line at an intermediate will earn 20 points, with the runner-up getting 17, down to one point for coming 15th. Clearly, the intermediate sprint is not as important as the final sprint, as the 45 points on offer for that would suggest, but consistent returns from intermediates are essential if you want to win the points competition. Mark Cavendish, for example, has made a habit of winning stages, but his haul of just one green jersey is evidence of his rivals being more adept at bagging points wherever they can.
TODAY'S TOUR TRIVIA
With not many I's to run through I thought I would (see what I did there?) mention Daryl Impey. The amiable 29-year-old became the first South African to wear the Tour's yellow jersey last year, when he took the lead after the sixth stage in Montpellier, only to hand it over two days later to the first Anglo-Kenyan to wear the maillot jaune, Chris Froome. The Nairobi-born Brit would keep it all the way to Paris. With Impey inheriting the jersey from an Australian, who got it from a Dutchman, who took it from a German, there is no denying now that cycling is a global game.