Tour de France Grand Depart diary

Leeds Rhinos tour-themed jersey Image copyright Leeds Rhinos
Image caption Leeds Rhinos will be wearing a one-off, "maillot jaune"-style, all-yellow kit

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.


Monday's diary included a gruesome tale about a cyclist "marking" his territory in a farmer's field in Wensleydale, so it with some relief, no pun intended, that I am able to tell you about more pleasant markings by cyclists in the Aire Valley. A group of mountain-bike riders, including our very own Cathy Killick, followed a narrow track around a field above Oxenhope last week to make the outline of "The Leap", one of 12 pieces of land art in the Fields of Vision project. Designed by local artist Louise Lockhart, it signifies the freedom women were given by the advent of the bike. Among the other Fields of Vision creations are a shepherd with his dog, and some very clever geometric patterns made with different shades of grass. Best seen from a helicopter, these giant artworks will look a treat on the Tour's TV coverage.

Full story: Telegraph and Argus

There is an artistic bent to today's musings with the next item being news of a cycling strand at this week's Sheffield Doc/Fest. Under the "Hell on Wheels" banner, there are three documentaries for you to immerse yourself in, with the most enjoyable being "the only one not about Lance-sodding-Armstrong". That film is "Slaying the Badger", an account of the 1986 Tour de France that saw teammates Bernhard Hinault and Greg LeMond battle each other for victory. In light of the recent hoo-ha about Chris Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins, this race is often cited as what happens when teams go into the Tour with more than one leader. This is a mistake. It should really be remembered as the exception to the rule, as LeMond won, with Hinault coming second, and it has gone down as one of the greatest Tours of all time: something for Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford to consider, perhaps. Anyway, Slaying the Badger is based on an excellent book by Richard Moore and it is has the effortlessly charismatic Hinault in it, so it is bound to be good.

Full story: The Guardian

There really is no escaping the Tour in Yorkshire now, with all of the region's major institutions getting into the spirit of the event. The latest to join in are the Leeds Rhinos, who will be wearing a one-off, "maillot jaune"-style, all-yellow kit for the home Super League game against Catalans Dragons on the Sunday before the Grand Depart. Their visitors, from the foothills of the Pyrenees, will be sporting a King of the Mountains-themed, polka-dot number. The Rhinos kit features the logo of the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity and a percentage from any sales of the shirt will go to the cause.

Full story: Yorkshire Evening Post


You have to hand it to the spin doctor in Chris Froome, he knows how to manipulate a news cycle. With most people still eager to talk about Sir Bradley Wiggins' plans for this summer and beyond, the 2013 Tour de France champion keeps serving up new stories for us to write about. Tuesday saw the Team Sky leader put on an exhibition of attacking cycling at the Criterium du Dauphine that only Alberto Contador could live with. The Spaniard was able to just about hang on to Froome's back wheel on the climb of the Col du Beal, but for him it was a second straight defeat to the man he must beat at Le Tour.

Image copyright Allsport/Getty Images
Image caption Adam Yates continued his superb form in his debut season

As impressive as Froome was, and he was very impressive, special mentions should also go to two young British riders with Tour ambitions of their own. The first is Bury's Adam Yates, who continued his superb form in his debut season to finish eighth on the day, just 42 seconds behind the leader. And the second is Burley-in-Wharfedale's Scott Thwaites, who is riding in the Dauphine for a place in his team's Tour line-up. Thwaites was back in 123rd, nearly 19 minutes behind Froome, but there were more than 40 riders behind him, including some solid Tour riders and three of his NetApp-Endura teammates. Thwaites is no climber, but he is hugely improved on the uphill sections and if he can continue to finish with the bulk of the non-specialists in the Dauphine's hilly stages he will do his Tour chances the power of good.


"He does it again!!! #dauphine #masterclass Brilliant @chrisfroome #VaVaFroome"

I wish Michelle Cound would get off the fence when she tweets during bike races involving her fiancé.


And 25 is how many Tour stages Mark Cavendish has won in his seven appearances in the race since his debut in 2007.

That is good enough for joint third on the all-time list, alongside France's Andre Leducq, and just three behind Hinault. Belgian great Eddy Merckx leads the way on 34.

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