Sunday, 6 July 2014

Within touching distance of the peloton

Tour De France - Stage 2 York to Sheffield

Both the first two stages of Le Grand Départ in Yorkshire passed quite close to Saltaire, so I went with some friends on Sunday to see it. The crowds turning out to watch were unbelievable. We opted to walk quite a distance to a moorland road beyond Haworth and even up here the spectators lined the route shoulder to shoulder. It's one of those things where you have to wait for ages - and I mean ages... hours! And then it all happens in a rush, too fast to take in really.

We arrived early, at about 9.15 am. At first the enjoyment came from watching everybody else arriving and seeing how people were dressed (lots of yellow and polka dot T-shirts, some French berets!), watching people setting up temporary camp and even planting flags in the ground. Then cars and motorbikes started to come through, including police from the local force and beyond, who were all extremely jovial, high-fiving people as they drove past. There were French gendarmes too.

Then at about 11.30 am came the Caravane, a parade of all sorts of vehicles advertising things and throwing out free samples to the crowds. (I did think, it being Yorkshire, they might have added a couple of brass bands - but no.) Then came some of the team support cars. And finally about 1.30 pm  - hurrah! - the riders. First came the 'breakaway' of about seven riders (see the photo above) and then after a few minutes, the peloton.

That was actually quite terrifying. There were originally 198 riders (now, sadly, minus Mark Cavendish who was injured yesterday) so that means in the peloton there were about 190 cyclists, all packed together climbing the hill, spread right across the road. They were so close that you almost couldn't see anything except a blur as they sped past. It was very exciting but quite astonishing too. One bad move and the whole lot would have come down like a pack of cards, in a dreadful heap! I should have waited a fraction longer before I took my photo, but I knew I couldn't lean out into the road as they passed so I was being careful. As it was, I had to take a smart leap backwards to get out of their way!

I recorded the TV coverage so I could watch it when I got home - and of course you see a lot, lot more on TV than you do from the roadside - I even saw me! (see below, red top, black trousers!) Actually being there though, the atmosphere was tremendous and I'm so glad I went. I don't suppose I will ever see it again in my home territory.



  1. It's been wonderful to watch on T.V. Jenny. I know where you were, I used to live on the road to Stanbury and would have loved to see the race from that spot. I now live in the east midlands and loved seeing Yorkshire looking so beautiful in the sunshine. It's a shame there was an ad break when they went past my old house :0(
    Jacquie x

  2. Your photos today are excellent. With the riders passing by in a flash, it is very very hard to capture reasonable images. You did well. And, I agree, they are so tightly packed together that it takes very little to topple the whole group.

    And look at you! You must have been excited to watch the TV coverage and then see yourself! We don't see very much . . . you will need to update us with a current portrait photo.

  3. How fun that you were there! And to go home and see yourself on TV must have been the icing on the cake!

  4. Hi Jenny - fantastic you went and enjoyed yourself and 'saw you' - what fun!! I'm so glad the weather held and it's been so successful .. let's hope today is just as good ... amazing numbers watching - and then seeing all the spectators on the hills enjoying the surrounding views and then this incredible race going past ...

    Great fun .. I'm doing a cheese Tour post later on and I'll link back here to both your posts .. lovely to see .. and catch your thoughts on the days ...

    Cheers Hilary

  5. The peloton was quite frightening wasn't it? I actually took my finger of the camera shutter as I was convinced it was going to bowl me over. I seem to have 350 practice shots of cars passing and 4 half decent shots of the race. Ah well, it might pass again in thirty years time.

    1. Ha, I know exactly what you mean about all the practice shots! I have loads too. And they didn't help!

  6. What a thrill it must have been to see them zooming by, Jenny! I love that you saw yourself later.


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