You would think that something called “The Tour of France” would generally stay within France, right? And that is where you would be wrong. While the majority of the stages in Le Tour de France actually do take place in France, often there will be a handful of stages that take place within nearby countries. Minh and I lucked out this year because, while we couldn’t make our way to France to watch any of the stages, the first three stages were being held in the UK.. collectively known as Le Grande Départ. Yorkshire is only a couple hours north of us, so we decided to camp for the weekend in Harrogate and watch the first two stages from there.
Stage 1 – Leeds to Harrogate
Stage 2 – York to Sheffield
I have to say that all the towns in Yorkshire that were going to have the peloton roll through went ALL OUT for this event. The organization was on a level that I haven’t seen yet in the UK, and the enthusiasm of all the spectators was incredible. It was also incredibly crowded.. something like 2.5 million people came out to line the course of the first two stages. I’m not sure that there was any section of the route that didn’t have a spectator cheering on the riders.
I’m glad that Minh and I came out to watch these stages. I don’t know if we’ll get a chance like this chance to watch the Tour anytime soon once we leave the UK. And it was especially cool to see the publicity caravan that rolled through about an hour before the riders.