With only four short days until the start of the year’s biggest race, things are starting to hot up in Yorkshire. Tour de France director, Christian Prudhomme was welcomed to Leeds airport yesterday and is excited about the race kicking off in North England.
“There are several reasons for the Tour de France being in Yorkshire. Obviously, there’s the beautiful scenery. There are racing roots here given it’s the home of Brian Robinson, the first British rider to win a stage of the Tour, and Barry Hoban, who was the Briton who had won the most stages before the advent of Mark Cavendish. But, above all, it’s the fact that we’ve been able to put together two stages that are very different.”
“They’re both very beautiful, but one is one for the sprinters, even though there are some hills on it, and the other for the puncheurs and even for the riders aiming for the general classification. That was a determining element. I think these two stages will show the entire world why we have chosen Yorkshire.
“I think people will be blown away by the scenery and also by the contests we’re going to see between two very different sets of riders on these two stages. That is what Yorkshire is going to show this weekend. The terrain is magnificent and from a sporting point of view it’s very testing.”
Prudhomme said his expectations for the race have been heightened as a result of events on the road at the Criterium du Dauphiné. “The Dauphiné was great news as far as the Tour is concerned. In fact, it couldn’t have been better because we saw an action-packed, thrilling race won by an outsider.
Touted as the most difficult start to a Tour de France in years, the opening stages in Yorkshire guarantee an action packed Grand Depart. Although the Tour won’t be won here, GC contenders will have to be on their guard, or could find themselves well and truly behind the eight ball, before even touching down on French soil. Added to these difficult Yorkshire stages will be the pressure and difficulty of riding the pave in Northern France immediately after arriving on continental shores. The 101st edition of the Tour is almost here and as always, guarantees to be a cracker!