Tour de France Grand Depart diary

Chelsea Flower Show garden Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Bicycle wheel frames create a wall in the 'Tour of Yorkshire' garden at the Chelsea Flower Show

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.


War of the Roses Word of the Tour coming to Yorkshire has gone abroad it seems, with two stories about the race appearing in Friday's Lancashire Telegraph. My favourite is the one titled "Fun for all the family" that is illustrated by a picture of an empty road. It suggests Skipton is the "place to be" as it is only seven miles from Earby, and points out that "a few hundred metres" of stage two is on historic Lancashire soil at Turvin Road, between Cragg Vale and Littleborough. And nation shall speak peace unto nation.

Full story: Lancashire Telegraph

Flower power Speaking of roses, Welcome to Yorkshire's Grand Depart-themed garden won a silver medal at the Chelsea Flower Show. That said, I am not sure there was anything as clichéd as a rose growing in the country/urban mash-up display. There were wild flowers from York, though, and a windswept hawthorn from Brimham Rocks.

Full story: The Press

Smoke and manoeuvres For those still not convinced that the Tour de France is a major event, this news will come as a blow. The world's premier aerobatics display team, the Red Arrows, have been booked to perform their traditional red, white and blue flypast as the riders start racing from Harewood House on 5 July.

Full story: Yorkshire Evening Post

Sign of the times Children from Addingham Primary School have been helping the Lord Mayor of Bradford put up 35 new brown tourist signs along the route of stages one and two, so amateur cyclists and Tour historians can follow in the pedal strokes of their heroes for years to come. OK, it was probably a team of contractors who actually put the signs up, but Councillor Khadim Hussain said: "I hope people using these signs, to either cycle or drive the route, stop off and visit our beautiful towns and villages."

Full story: Ilkley Gazette

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Aerobatics display team the Red Arrows will mark the Tour as riders set off from Harwood House on 5 July


After nearly two weeks of skirmishes at the Giro d'Italia, Colombia's Rigoberto Uran has won the first major battle. And such was the extent of his victory in stage 12's individual time trial, he might even have won the war.

The Omega Pharma-Quick-Step team leader powered over the hilly 41.9km from Barbaresco to Barolo to win by a stunning margin of 87 seconds from Italy's Diego Ulissi. He now leads the race by 37 seconds, with nine days of racing to go.

Third on the day was Cadel Evans, the overnight leader who had been hoping to stretch that advantage with tough mountain stages to come in the final week. The Australian rode well, but not well enough on a day when Uran was simply in a different class to the rest of the field. Friday's stage should finish in a sprint, before the race returns to the mountains on Saturday.

Elsewhere, the protracted doping case involving 2012 Tour of Britain winner Jonathan Tiernan-Locke has been postponed until later this summer. The Team Sky rider has been suspended all season after anomalies became apparent in his biological passport, the individual blood profile that anti-doping authorities use to monitor athletes. The postponement, however, is a relatively simple case of a diary clash between barristers.

And while Leeds gears up for its Grand Depart, Brussels has thrown its beret into the ring to host the start of the Tour in 2019. That would mark the 50th anniversary of cycling legend Eddy Merckx's first stage victory.


"Nice ride by Mick Jagger today #forte"

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Rigoberto Uran's likeness to Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger was noted on Twitter

Team Sky's double Olympic champion Geraint Thomas congratulates former colleague and Rolling Stones frontman lookalike Rigoberto Uran on his Giro success.


N is for…

Neutralised - If truth be told, N is for not much in terms of cycling lingo, so it is fitting that the only term I could think means the race is not really happening. Stages, or parts of stages, are usually neutralised for safety reasons. This could be the first few miles of a stage - in order to get the riders and race convoy safely out of a city before the real racing starts - or the last few miles of a stage if there has been a big crash or particularly bad weather. In the latter case, everybody is given the same time, regardless of when they cross the line. But you would still have a stage winner, as well points being on offer in that competition, so some riders will race to the line. This can lead to complaints from the sprinters, who feel they are being expected to take risks that the general classification competitors are not.


Thursday's news that Yorkshireman Scott Thwaites has been included on his team's long list for the Tour got me thinking about how many British riders we could have on the starting line in Leeds. The record entry from this country is 11 in 1961, when the race was contested by national teams. The Tours in 1967 and 1968 were run on the same lines, with nine and then 10 British riders in the peloton. But the numbers dwindled over the next 40 years, with no Brits in the race in 2004 or 2005.

The advent of National Lottery funding, the opening of Manchester's velodrome, Olympic success, Team Sky and cycling's general return to fashion have all played parts in reversing that trend, and we could now see the biggest British contingent at Le Tour for half a century. If anybody wants to make a prediction on the total, tweet me @mattslaterbbc. I am going for 10.

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