Tour de France: Riders tackle the route

French-themed night at St John Fisher School in Harrogate (s)
French-themed night at St John Fisher School in Harrogate (s)

The Tour de France will arrive in Harrogate one year and one week from today (Friday).

The biggest sporting event the district has ever seen will descend on July 5, 2014, and, with this year’s event due to begin tomorrow, excitement is building. Each month we will be following the progress of Le Tour build-up. This month, we hear from the hardy teachers taking on the Tour route at the end of term, and learn how university students are planning to line the route with displays.

On July 20, 2013, 25 riders will set off from Pannal School on a 125-mile, two-day cycle, following the official Tour de France route in Yorkshire.

The only change to the route is the riders will start and finish at the school.

Rider Lorraine Mitchell said: “It is to be a gruelling ride, and the volunteers are already hard in to the training regime with several group rides taking place every week.

“Mrs Toy, a Reception teacher at Pannal School, is taking part and this is a massive achievement for someone who a few months ago didn’t really do any cycling at all.

“We aim to raise funds both for the school, and to make a donation to the Candlelighters charity, with whom we have a connection, due to the unfortunate fact that one of our current pupils is suffering from leukaemia.”

Headteacher Jane Turner will welcome the riders back by waving a chequered flag.

Lorraine added: “We have many local sponsors of the event jersey and donators who will collectively have raised several thousand pounds through this event, and it seems like a great way to not only celebrate the one year to go mark for the forthcoming Tour de France in July 2014, but also to end off the school year before the summer break.”

The team is asking for a sponsor to supply energy drinks and bottled water.

Pupils were asked to get involved by taking part in a competition to deign a logo for the riders’ jerseys.Winner Juliette Ball, 5, scooped the prize of a cycle helmet, donated by Boneshakers in Harrogate.

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Last month, we reported on the St John Fisher School staff and parents who are planning to take ona cyclo-sportif event in France this August.The event was officially launched at the school with a French-themed soirée.

An event spokesperson said: “To the sounds of Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Debussy and Ravel, parents sampled a selection of French wines and cheeses.

“Louis di Virgilio sang a barnstorming medley of songs from Les Misérables; Kitty Watson and Sally Hall gave the audience a beautiful rendition of songs from the Hunchback of Notre Dame; and Eloise Dunn and Stella Kremer brought Jacques Brel to life.

“The Junior Choir gave an appetising foretaste of their forthcoming production of Beauty and the Beast and compere Craig Ratcliffe suitably dressed in a full ‘Allo Allo’ outfit, led the evening with brio and panache.

“The undoubted highlight of the hugely popular and well-attended evening was Alice Pye’s team of Can-Can dancers.

Playing to a rapturous response from the audience with at least one encore, the high-kicking troupe brought the evening to a rumbustious conclusion.”

As part of our coverage of the countdown, we are asking readers to get in touch to let us know how they are preparing for the biggest sporting event ever to reach the district.

If you are organising a ride, or have stepped up training with a club, we want to know. Email or call 01423 707526.