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Tour de France: Harrogate businesses get into the spirit of le Tour

NADV 1407017AM6 H'gate TDF feature. Rosie Doble, Julie Mcmillian, Gilly Bendtson and Catherine Wright.  (1407017AM6)

NADV 1407017AM6 H'gate TDF feature. Rosie Doble, Julie Mcmillian, Gilly Bendtson and Catherine Wright. (1407017AM6)

Businesses in Harrogate Town Centre have pulled out all the stops to welcome visitors for the Tour de France weekend.

Around 100,000 people are expected to visit Harrogate town centre, over the weekend hoping to catch a glimpse of Froome, Cavendish et al, although many eager visitors have arrived early.

Gily Bendtson, visitor services manager at Harrogate Tourist Information Office said the team had helped around 1,300 visitors this week - twice as many as usual.

“It has been very busy, we have almost sold out of the Tour merchandise. Everyone is asking where they should go for the best views.”

Parliament Street has been festooned with buntingandknitted jerseys hang from almost every railing.

Jo Spreckley from shop baa ram ewe, who designed the bunting pattern, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many of the mini jerseys around Harrogate and beyond. We never imagined, all those months ago that it would take off like this.”

Mike Procter at M Procter opticians took the decorating one step further, repainting his store front bright yellow.

He said: “It took litres and litres of paint, it isn’t an easy colour to paint with!”

Mr Procter’s shop sits just metres from the finish line and heis selling tickets to watch the race from him vantage point to raise money for Saint Michael’s Hospice.

Tickets cost £300 and include a pair of Oakley sunglasses, food and drink, and some of the best seats in the house. Mr Procter added: “I am 100 per cent behind this event. Harrogate is extremely fortunate to be hosting the finish. The Tour de France is the third most watched sporting event on earth. Visitor numbers will increase for years to come.”

Peter Jesper from Jespers on Oxford Street has also caught the yellow fever, decorating his shop and offering discounts on yellow products.

He said: “It has taken a while for the businesses to warm up to it, we just don’t know what it is going to be like.

“It is a once in a life time thing, we have got to support it as much as we can.”

Rachel Palm from Parliament Street clothing boutique Julie Fitzmaurice agrees.

She said: “We won’t do a lot of trade on the day probably, but we will be opening to show our support to Harrogte as a town.”

One Harrogate business whcih has gone above and beyond to support the Tour de France is the Coach and Horses, or the Cvndsh and Horses as it is now known.

Landlord John Nelson has put up new signs, showing his devotion to the man he thinks will win the first led of the world’s biggest annual sporting event.

Mark Cavendish himself responded to this tremendous show of support, tweeting a picture of the pub on Tuesday, July 1, and writing: “Love this pub, 100 or so meters after the Stage1 finish in Harrogate. Thanks so much for the @cvndsh support guys!”

Mr Nelson said: “Mark Cavendish has local connections and talking with his management team we wanted to do something special, something that wasn’t just a banner. What better way to show our support than renaming the pub? Mark is part of our town and we are proud to be associated with him. We wish him all the best for every stage of this fantastic race.

Harrogate college and Horticap have helped decorate the pub and a sculpture by Steve Blaylock has been displayed on the side of the building.

 

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