Tour De France 2014 Stages 1 & 3 05 & 07 July

Since the London Grand Depart back in 2007, it is fair to say there has been a boom in cycling throughout the UK, helped by British success in both the Beijing & London Olympic games but also the two Tour wins for Bradley Wiggins & Chris Froome, who would be the favourite for this edition. Another cycling success story since 2007 has been the rise of the Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish, a youngster back in the ’07 tour crashing out early on. Since then he has gone on to win 25 stages of the Tour de France & the rainbow striped jersey of the world road race champion to name but a few achievements. A lot of attention would also be on him for this stage & tour with the 1st stage finishing in Harrogate, where he grew up but also how he would fare against the German powerhouse, Giant Shimano’s Marcel Kittel, a thorn in Cav’s side in 2013.
All of this success has raised the profile of cycling in the UK substantially, with people a lot more in the know about how the sport works and getting on their bikes. All of this even considering the surfacing of Doping scandals by the likes of Lance Armstrong & others in the past.

Anyway below is a series of my images from both the Grand Depart in Leeds on the 5th July & the end of stage 3 on the Mall in London on the 7th July.

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After travelling up to London overnight, I arrived in Leeds just after 5am. I then walked along the Headrow in the city centre right up to the start area. At the time was fairly quiet and there was steady rain.

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The support cars for that travel both in front and behind the race were parked in all of the areas surrounding the Headrow.

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You know you’re in Yorkshire when the streets are lined with things like this!

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The early morning excitement started to build as the start gantry was being unveiled 5 hours before the riders would line up underneath it.

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As the crowds started to build, a couple of familiar faces appeared for some television interviews. Christian Prudhomme the director of Le Tour De France & Gary Verity, the chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, responsible for bringing the Grand Depart to Yorkshire.

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One of Skoda’s mascots walks up the Headrow.

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Decorations associated with the tour line not just the route through Leeds & Yorkshire, but the whole county as it is gripped by tour fever.

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Before the main race began, a group of young riders, possible future stars named ‘les cadets juniors’ covered the 1st & last 30km of each stage to get a taste of what the elite riders experience.

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One feature of the Tour De France is the publicity caravan that travels the route of each stage a couple of hours before the riders. Fittingly, the welcome to Yorkshire vehicle was amongst the first to travel the route for stage 1.

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Four Skoda cars each with one of these mascots on top representing each Jersey, yellow, green, polka-dot & white travelled the route as part of the Caravan.

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Ned Boulting, representing ITV opened up their tour coverage while standing on the start line.

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With about an hour or so to go until the grand depart, the rain stopped & the sun stepped in for the rest of the day.

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This even prompted Sherlock Holmes to have a day out to watch the cycling!

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Amongst other familiar faces on the Headrow was 5 time Tour De France winner Bernard Hinault.

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With the riders signing on an hour before the start, the sun was shining and the crowds were out in force, setting the scene for a Grand depart like no other.

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Leading the riders to the start line were 2013 Tour Winner & hot Favourite Chris Froome & Mark Cavendish. Hopes were high for both.

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2010 winner Alberto Contador of the Tinkoff-Saxo team lined up alongside the british contingent at the start hoping to improve on his performance after mixed fortunes in 2013.

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Cav was all smiles before the start, relishing the chance of a home stage win & the chance of starting stage 2 in the coveted Malliot Jaune, the yellow Jersey. Though after a nasty fall after a collision with Australian Simon Gerrans in the final few hundred metres, the dream was over & Cav was ruled out of the tour through injury. Marcel Kittel went on to win the stage ahead of Cannondale’s Peter Sagan.

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After mixed fortunes in the Dauphine in the lead up to the tour, Chris Froome was ready and fully fit for the defence of his 2013 title. Though ultimately the first stage in France (stage 4) would put an end to the defence with a fall, injuring his wrist. He continued bravely into the infamous stage 5 which included the Pavè, though two more falls in the wet weather resulting in a fractured wrist & hand, ending his tour prematurely.

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Here’s trouble!! After the riders left the Headrow, they were followed off to Harrogate by the team support vehicles & the team buses. Here (towards the back) was the Orica Greenedge bus, this time with no gantry for it to get stuck under!

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As the thousands of spectators in Leeds turned their attention to the Tour Boutiques & big screens around the city centre showing the action around the dales, the entertainment continued along the Headrow.

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Away from Leeds & Yorkshire now and over to the end of Stage 3 in London. Here is the view of the course as it passes Buckingham Palace about 10 hours before the race was due to pass through.

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Even though the Mall had been transformed into the finishing straight for stage 3, ceremonial duties continued as normal followed by street sweepers to clean up what the horses had left behind!

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This was the view down the mall towards the Finish line & Admiralty Arch as final preparations were made for the arrival of the riders on their way from Cambridge.

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As the riders entered the Mall from Birdcage walk, Marcel Kittel of Giant Shimano powered away through the drizzle to the stage win, followed by Cannondale’s Peter Sagan & Omega Pharma Quick-Step’s Mark Renshaw.

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One of Kittel’s team mates celebrates on his way down to the finish after being an integral part of the Sprint train, launching Kittel onto the Mall at the front of the peloton.

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After a crash around Parliament square, some of the bunch were split up. Here are some of the last riders as they close in on the finish.

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After the finish, some of the Tinkoff-Saxo riders made their way up and down the Mall a couple of times before making their way down to their team bus on Horseguards Parade.

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With the roads around central London still closed, the teams with their support cars & buses made their way along to Folkestone and the Eurotunnel with riders heading to London City Airport, heading to France for stage 4 the following day.

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