So it would seem that Leeds will be the Grand Depart city of the 2014 Tour de France, beating off Edinburgh, Florence et all to take the crown jewel position.Unfortunately, they didn’t discover my idea for a Northumberland Grand Depart (https://sicycle.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/an-alternative-british-bid-for-the-tour-de-france-northumberlandnewcastle-upon-tyne/) so we’ll have to make do with Leeds.
Of course, we should be happy the Tour is returning to British soil after 2007, which was so successful that the race was meant to be back in 2010 or 2011, but never materialised. Also, London is only in the final day, so for once, the world will learn that something exists in Britain that *horror* isn’t London.
Unfortunately, they will see Leeds. Leeds, known for its ring roads and unreadable one way system. Joy is me. Now, it does have some pretty buildings made of glass and modern stuff, but, well not many. Given the rules of the race now state Grand Departs have to be back on home soil after 4days, the hope is that Leeds won’t be holding a prologue, but will be just starting a road stage. That will hopefully be it. It’ll be raining anyway so we won’t see much.
I’ve drawn up a route as usual for the grand depart, which obviously isn’t the actual one, just some imaginings. Of course, given this is Yorkshire, the list of places not to go was longer then the one where it would be nice to see – Bradford, for instance, is not somewhere continental eyes should learn exist, and the sooner we wipe Hull off the map, the better. The names of Scunthorpe and Grimsby almost convey how rubbish they are so they too will be largely ignored, unless we can pass through them in the first hour where there’s no TV. Still, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it properly, with hills, fish and chips and the lot.
So voila: my route for 2014. It even follows the actual plans, with Leeds the first start city and London the last.
Stage 1: Leeds-York 113 miles/182km
Stage 2: York-Scarborough 90miles/145km
Stage 3: Sheffield-Cambridge 144miles/231km
Stage 4: London TTT 20miles/32km
Stage One: Leeds-York
For reasons unknown, Leeds, not York, is the host city, so to rectify that we’re heading to York, which is North, not South, but we’re going North West into the Yorksire dales to look at some climbs before a long flat run in punctuated with a couple of bumps in the finale for the barodeurs to strike into York. Of course, this being the glorious British summer, York will be flooded, but if by some miracle it isn’t then the race should finish outside the minister.
Stage Two: York-Scarborough
Yeeeeesss, Scarborough, but I’ll get to that later. York is very pretty so the riders can tour through there for a bit before the race starts proper and they head off into the North York moors. I went there the other year and by god there’s some hills. So lets make use of them by dropping the riders into some steep, nasty gradients on day two, with only 15miles to catch whoever has torn away on the final, very steep climb of the day. We also pass through Whitby, where the riders can sample the millions of fish and chips shops. It also means we get to see the sea and hopefully we could get some tall ships to remind everyone how great Blighty used to be at sea and all that. Also, there’s a nice castle at Scarborough, which helps reconcile the towns rubbish name.
Stage Three: Sheffield-Cambridge
It’s time to leave Yorkshire, but we give Sheffield the honour of the stage start, before the riders chug along on this sprinters stage through Nottingham, Peterborough and, er , Grantham before a sprint finish in Cambridge. Lovely. Apart from when Oxford get upset of course.
Stage Four: London TTT
If we’re going to have a stage in London, it’s going to be proper, not some abortive crap that they’ve done at the Tour of Britain where they go up and down the Embankment showing helicopter shots of grey, dull rooftops. So this team time trial will not only shut the city down for the day, but will show it off from West to East, and even go South of the river (not for long though, they stab you down there). Starting under St Pauls, the riders then charge down the Strand to Trafalgar Square, before cutting across Whitehall and over Westminister Bridge, before cutting around Blackfriars and Waterloo before heading to the Millennium Bridge.
They’ll then somehow get over the technical footbridge, which lines up with Saint Pauls for a lovely photo, before heading along through the City toward the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, which they also cross.
The detour East was just to do that, so now they have to head back through South London. Eventually they cross Lambeth bridge and head back South along Chelsea Embankment then go on a little Tour of the Museums before going back up past Harrods on Brompton road and through Hyde Park Corner.
Then, its up to the shopping streets of Oxford Street and Shaftsbury avenue (despite what the image shows, it would go down there) before heading down Constitution hill to finish on the Mall. Beat that for a whistle stop Tour of the Capital.
Then they can just pop down to Heathrow on the Piccadilly Line and pop off to France. Job Done.
Please feel free to send me insulting messages explaining why Leeds/Hull/Bradford etc are actually quite nice.