As Chris Froome wakes up this morning, perhaps with a sore head, attention is already turning to the 101st edition of the Tour de France, which will begin next year in Yorkshire.
The English county campaigned tirelessly for a number of years for the honour of hosting the Grand Départ, with hundreds of the world’s best cyclists expected to take their places on the starting line on July 5th next year.
Yorkshire and cycling go hand-in-hand.
The county is widely regarded as one of the spiritual heartlands of UK cycling producing trailblazing talent like Brian Robinson, the first British rider to win a stage of the Tour de France, Barry Hoban a winner of eight stages of the Tour de France and Malcolm Elliott the first British rider to win a Grand Tour points jersey.
Its landscape continues to inspire a new generation of star cyclists today, but it’s for the warmth of our welcome that the people of Yorkshire are best known.
The route taken by next year’s event will competitors through some of the great and historic cities of the county, including the Roman walled city of York and Leeds as well as the stunning cathedral city of Ripon, and Sheffield, which is fast becoming known as one of Europe’s great sporting cities.
They’ll wind through the glorious Yorkshire Dales National Park into the quintessential English market town of Harrogate before experiencing the dramatic rise and fall of the Pennines around Brontë country.
“We love to meet new people and to make them feel at home in the place which has the nickname of God’s Own County.
“We know that the millions of Yorkshire men, women and children who turn out to cheer on the riders as they pass through our city streets and country lanes will give the Tour de France the warmest welcome ever,” explained Gary Verity, chief executive, Welcome to Yorkshire.
Welcome to Yorkshire won the title of World’s Leading Marketing Campaign at the World Travel Awards in 2012, in no small part thanks to its efforts to secure the Tour de France for the UK.
The 101st running of the Tour de France will begin outside the 19th century Town Hall in the heart of historic Leeds.
From the steps of the concert venue the riders will head north-west out of the city centre and into the Yorkshire countryside.
They will pass Harewood House, home of the Lascelles family for over 250 years, before they head to Skipton, gateway to the spectacular Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Up to this point the route is fairly flat, but once they enter the iconic Dales the terrain gets steeper as the riders race a semi-circular route across the contours of the valleys.
They leave at the north east edge of the National Park sweeping southeast through Leyburn and the cathedral city of Ripon, rejoining the flat roads to the pretty spa town of Harrogate.
It is here at the end of a long straight line finish that we will discover who will be the first rider to wear the famous yellow jersey of the 2014 Tour de France.
A stunning walled city brimming with history, York is the venue for the start of stage two.
After starting at Clifford’s Tower the peloton will head west passing through Harrogate once again before turning south and heading to Huddersfield via Haworth, home of literary sisters, the Brontës.
From here the cyclists will be able to stretch their legs on a number of steep sections before they arrive at the gateway to another National Park, the Peak District, on the edge of the Pennines.
The slopes start to get steeper here especially the stretch leading to Holme Moss, renowned as one of the toughest climbs in the whole of Great Britain.
There are still a few hills to cross before the cyclists arrive in the UK’s first city of sport Sheffield. The last hill climb of the day is less than five kilometres from the finish in the northeast of the city next to the Don Valley Stadium.
The famous university city provides the stunning setting for the beginning of the third chapter of the Grand Départ.
This stage is mainly flat and will take the cyclists south on the roads of Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Essex.
The race arrives in Greater London from the northeast, via Epping Forest.
Once it has passed the Olympic Park, it will head for the centre of the British capital for its finale against a background of picture postcard scenes including the Thames, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey.
As with the prologue of the Tour de France in 2007 and the 2012 Olympic cycle road races, the final stretch will take the competitors through St James’s Park, in front of Buckingham Palace for a spectacular finish on The Mall.