Tour de France to take in Knaresborough High Street

13th May 2012'PICTURE POST'Pictured Knaresborough Viaduct on a spring day.'Camera info, Dikon D3s, 80-200mm lens, !000th sec @ F11, ISO rating 200.'Picture by Gerard Binks.
13th May 2012'PICTURE POST'Pictured Knaresborough Viaduct on a spring day.'Camera info, Dikon D3s, 80-200mm lens, !000th sec @ F11, ISO rating 200.'Picture by Gerard Binks.

Knaresborough will enjoy the full impact of the Tour de France next year after an agreement with Network Rail will allow the race to pass through The High Street on July 6 2014.

The had been fears that the worlds most famous cycle race would have to travel down the bypass, missing Knaresborough town centre due to issues with the railway crossing at Starbeck.

Network Rail have confirmed they are in discussions with Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet regarding the issue and the Knaresborough Post believes an agreement has been reached.

The gates at the Starbeck crossing will need to be allowed to stay open for the three hours required to allow the bicycles and support vehicles to pass over the crossing.

Coun John Batt, Mayor of Knaresborough said: “I am absolutely delighted with this news, it now means that Knaresborough will see the race pass through the town giving residents and visitors the opportunity to see the race from within the town centre.

“The event will be screened in 180 countries around the world so will shine a spotlight on the town and will surely bring benefits for businesses and tourism both for the event and in the future.”

The first day of the Grand Depart, July 5, will close with a sprint finish on Harrogate Stray, outside Hotel du Vin.

The race will return to the area on day two, travelling down Knaresborough High Street, Bond End and through Starbeck.

A staggering two to three million people are expected to descend on the Harrogate district for the first stage of the Tour de France.

“This will be like hosting the Olympics right here in Harrogate,” said Peter McCormick, chairman of the town’s tourism body, Visit Harrogate. “It’s the best thing that’s happened in the district for many years.

“It’s the third most important sporting event on earth, after the Olympics and the Fifa World Cup - and the Harrogate district gets it two days running.”

He added: “This is a huge sporting event, watched by billions of people worldwide. It’s a fantastic opportunity to show the world what a fantastic place the Harrogate district is.”

In a presentation to the Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce on Monday, Welcome to Yorkshire’s marketing director Peter Dodd told members there will be a publicity caravan of 180 cars and floats to entertain the crowds.

Tour organisers are to visit in the autumn to prepare information packages, and talk of roof branding and field art advertising has already begun.

Coun Batt added: “As with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations last year, I have no doubt that the Knaresborough Town Council will co-ordinate events and decorate the town in a way that will befit the spectacle of the occasion.”