The exact route to be taken by cyclists during the 2014 Tour de France was this week revealed in Paris.
It is the first time those in Harrogate, Knaresborough, Nidderdale and Ripon have been able to find out precisely which roads - and whose houses - the world’s largest annual sporting event will pass on July 5 and 6.
The 190km long stage one begins at Leeds’ Millenium Square, passing Otley, Skipton and Masham before entering Ripon on Palace Road, before turning on to the A6108 North Road at the Clocktower.
Riders will then take to the by-pass, following the A61 past Ripley and through Killinghall.
Following Ripon Road into Harrogate, the cyclists will take to Parliament Street before the sprint finish.
Stage two on July 6 starts in York, travelling along the A59 into Knaresborough.
Riders will pass King James’s School and cycle directly through Knaresborough High Street, turning down Bond End and cycling to Starbeck.
The route then follows Knaresborough Road before turning off at the Empress roundabout, and following Skipton Road out of town.
Sticking to the A59, the route passes Blubberhouses and continuing before riders turn off on to the B6160 to Addingham, heading south to Sheffield.
And Le Tour will pass through Harrogate’s twin town of Bagnéres de Luchon on July 22.
The turn-by-turn guide to the roads which will feature when the world’s largest annual sporting event comes to town was welcomed by key town cyclists, business owners and politicians. Peter Banks is managing director of Rudding Park Hotel, which is due to house three teams during Le Tour.
He told the Harrogate Advertiser series: “This will be a massive event for Harrogate and for Yorkshire. We need to get people coming before Le Tour and need to get people coming back afterwards. The real impact will be the legacy Le Tour leaves for businesses and for people to come back.”
Mr Banks was this week joined by staff to launch the hotel’s Ride Le Route experience, for those wishing to stay at the hotel and tackle the roads of stage one.
MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough Andrew Jones told the ‘Advertiser: “I think the Tour coming to our area as a whole and to all the places it will be visiting as it travels round our county is just fantastic.
“To have such a massive event coming to our villages, towns and cities is absolutely huge.
“The excitement will be enormous - I am very excited about it, and hope to be able to watch at the finish line.
“It is going to be absolutely fantastic. I have met with local guesthouses and they have said people are already booking into cycle the route. I thought people would come once they saw the television coverage, but people are here already, and they are extremely welcome. The more the merrier!”
Harrogate cyclist Dave Prince runs website CycleHarrogate.co.uk. He said: “Le Tour is going to be spectacular. I am looking forward to it. I am hoping to be at West Park on the Saturday, and then go to watch it on the big screen at Starbeck on Sunday morning. My family and friends have asked if they can come to stay at mine for the weekend, I don’t know how many I’ve said yes to!
“Some of us will have to camp out, I’m sure.”
Those wishing to set up campsites, caravan sites or car parks when the district hosts the opening stages of the 2014 Tour de France will not need council permission to do so.
Harrogate Borough Council has announced it is to relax its planning rules for 28 days including the duration of the district’s hosting of the opening stages of the July event.
Mr Prince added: “It will be brilliant. It is going to be a great event. I was at a Tour meeting in Ripley earlier this month, and it seems people are starting to make things happen. I have children aged eight and five. I won’t be taking them on the full route, but we can have a go at parts of it.”
Millions worldwide will watch Le Tour live and thousands will line the streets across our district as the globe’s finest cyclists battle it out to win the sport’s greatest prize.
UCI ProTeam Omega Pharma-Quick Step cyclist Mark Cavendish has family in Harrogate, and will compete in the 2014 race. Looking forward to the July 5 sprint finish on West Park, Cavendish said: “It looks like I’ll have to take the jumper in my family’s home town.”
At the Paris event, Cavendish said of the Welcome to Yorkshire involvement in bringing Le Tour to the county: “Gary Verity and his team did an incredible job.”
Argos-Shimano rider Marcel Kittel said his favourite stage was stage one, from Leeds to Harrogate.
Harrogate nurses including Sarah Smith, who works for Le Tour’s official charity, Marie Curie Cancer Care, took to the streets of Harrogate to celebrate the route announcement.
Dr Jane Collins, Chief Executive of Marie Curie said: “We are absolutely honoured to be chosen as the charity partner of the Grand Départ.
“The Tour de France is the most famous cycling race in the world, and to be associated with it is fantastic.”
Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity presented the county as hosts in the Paris announcement. He said: “Yorkshire’s will be the greatest Grand Départ in the history of the Tour de France.
“We will raise the bar for all future hosts with our Cultural Festival 100 days before the race, two stunning stages and a legacy that leaves a cycling imprint on the county which lasts for generations.
“We are excited, we are proud and we are ready to welcome the world.”
See this week’s Harrogate Advertiser for more coverage and reaction, as well as full route details