Tour de France Grand Depart diary

Chris Boardman Image copyright PA
Image caption Chris Boardman is fronting a new app to help amateur cyclists plan rides along the Grand Depart route

With the world's biggest bike race starting in Leeds on 5 July, BBC Yorkshire's Tour de France correspondent Matt Slater rounds up the best of the gossip, opinion and stories, and also tries to explain some of cycling's mysteries.


Police bosses in South and West Yorkshire have reassured taxpayers that their council taxes will not be going up next year to cover overtime costs for policing the Tour de France. The two forces have been allocated £435,000 from the central Grand Depart budget, but that will only pay for outriders and planning, not the huge amounts of overtime that are expected to be needed to ensure the event goes smoothly. North Yorkshire's police chiefs have already revealed they have set aside £500,000 for their additional costs.

Full story: Yorkshire Evening Post

Former yellow jersey wearer Chris Boardman is fronting a free app to help amateur cyclists ride the three English stages of this year's Tour. A joint venture between the sport's governing body British Cycling and Ordnance Survey, the app has advice from Boardman and detailed maps of the routes.

Full story: News Shopper

Ilkley Cycling Club, one of the biggest clubs in the country, is putting the finishing touches to its plan for the highlight of its riding calendar: the White Rose Classic, an amateur ride that starts and finishes at Ilkley Rugby Club on 29 June, with three different routes to cater for all abilities.

Full story: British Cycling

And while our focus is on the start of the Tour, one of the main contenders for victory has spent the last few days looking at the final week of the race. Spain's Alberto Contador and his Tinkoff-Saxo teammates have been in the Pyrenees and it sounds like he liked what he saw. Britain's Chris Froome could be in for a much closer fight than he was given last year.

Full story: Cycling News


Emma Johansson won the first stage of the first ever Women's Tour, the female version of the Tour of Britain, in Northampton on Wednesday. The Swede timed her sprint to perfection, beating Dutch superstar Marianne Vos and Britain's Hannah Barnes on the line. Yorkshire's Lizzie Armitstead had led with 500m to go, but went too early and had to settle for eighth.

Our corner of the globe really does feel like the centre of the cycling universe this week, as Belfast prepares for the start of the second biggest race of the men's calendar, the Giro d'Italia. The action starts on Friday with a team time trial through Northern Ireland's capital, but the event's unofficial opening ceremony takes places on Thursday evening. The "team presentation" takes place at City Hall, with tickets for the event being free, unlike the equivalent event in Leeds this July (insert your own tight Yorkshireman gag here).

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sweden's Emma Johansson won the first stage of the inaugural Women's Tour of Britain


C is for…

Caravane - Not a place to sleep, "the caravan" is the rolling billboard that precedes the race. It is populated by hundreds of attractive young things, who are strapped into outlandish vehicles that pump out music and serve as platforms for throwing millions of freebies at the usually ecstatic crowds. Enormous fun the first time you see it, it grates after a few days but the race needs the sponsors' money.

Chute - A word often heard in the first week of a Tour, when the field is still close to full strength and the riders are nervously jockeying for position on crowded roads. Too many bikes and not enough space? It is a simple equation and this French word means "crash".

Creve (accented final e) - Or crevaison, this is another occupational hazard for the road cyclist: a puncture. Timing is everything with these: get one with enough time to catch up again and you are normally OK, get one in the last few miles and your race can be ruined.

Combativitie - A wonderfully subjective term that describes those riders who display elan, panache, or generally "have a go". There are prizes to be won for this every day, but very rarely stages. This is usually all a rider in a lone breakaway ever gets for their efforts.

Commissaire - Cycling's referee, and there are usually a few of them. These guys make sure everybody's bike is legit, and hand out punishments for dangerous riding, getting tows from team cars, and littering the countryside. Not to be missed with.

Contre-la-montre - French for time trial, the stages where riders set off one-by-one, or in team formations, and ride against the clock. This sorts the men from the boys and often decides who wins the overall title.


Last year's Tour, the 100th, was the first in 10 years to take place solely on French soil. It started on the Mediterranean island of Corsica for the first time, which meant the Tour has now visited every one of France's departements, or metropolitan regions.

Image copyright BBC Sport
Image caption Corsica was the starting point of the 2013 Tour de France

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