Tour de France Grand Depart diary

Tour De France bunting near Harrogate Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tour de France bunting is to decorate Harrogate when the spa town hosts the tour

With the 101st Tour de France starting in Leeds on 5 July, BBC Yorkshire's Matt Slater rounds up the best of the gossip, opinion and stories, on and off the bike, and also tries to explain some of cycling's unique lingo.


Spare Change The Grand Depart's organisers are planning to take a contingency fund of £500,000 into the last two weeks before the race for any last-minute emergencies. TdFHUB2014, the company set up to oversee the £27m budget for the three English stages of Le Tour, started with £2m of rainy-day cash but has been drawing down that money to cover rising crowd-control costs. Its latest spending update reveals a further £350,000 has been allocated for barriers, communications kit and traffic management, with a particular focus on the area around Holme Moss on 6 July's second stage. Savings have been made elsewhere, though, so TdfHUB2014 is sure it will deliver a "safe and enjoyable event for all" within budget.

Full story: UK Sport website

Spa change? Campaigners in Harrogate are asking local businesses to fund a £15,000 feasibility study into turning the Yorkshire spa town into a Dutch-style cycling-friendly centre, but presumably without the more liberal social experiments. With congestion a growing problem, some are hoping the coming of Le Tour could encourage people to swap four wheels for two, and they are calling for detailed research into how this can be delivered. But other senior figures in the town are worried this would divert money from projects already targeted at promoting cycling.

Full story: The Yorkshire Post

Cheerleaders required Want to spend the next couple of months talking about cycling, writing about cycling and watching cycling? Well, the people behind the five official Tour de France "Fan Parks" in Harrogate and London are looking for seven "ambassadors" to spread the word about the free sites and get people up for Le Tour. The Fan Parks team want 21 ambassadors in total: seven celebrity cyclists, seven elite cyclists and seven cycling fans from the general public. You can apply via the Fan Parks' Facebook page, and those picked will get VIP treatment at the Fan Park of their choice, some fancy sunglasses, a health "MOT" and the chance to blog and tweet about cycling all summer. I do not get any of that so I am quite tempted to apply myself.

Full story: road.cc

Bottoms up! As every cyclist knows, one of the great things about riding a bike is that it burns calories, making beer and cake less of a sin, and more of a vital part of your refuelling plan. With this in mind, Naylor's Brewery in Cross Hills has cooked up a premium blonde ale to celebrate the Grand Depart. Called "Saddle Sore" and made using French hops, it has been available in West Yorkshire in bottles for a few weeks now, and should be on draught from mid-June.

Full story: Keighley News


Although he will dispute he ever went away, Sir Bradley Wiggins is emphatically back now after a dominant display at the Tour of California on Monday. The 2012 Tour de France and Olympic champion endured a dismal campaign for most of last season but finished the year well. His season so far has been more steady than anything else, but that changed on the road to Folsom State Prison. The Team Sky star blitzed the field in a 20.3km time trial to take a huge 44-second lead in the race with six days to go.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bradley Wiggins is emphatically back, says the BBC's Matt Slater

Those days will not be easy - Tuesday's stage is the first of two mountain-top finishes - but Wiggins has made success this week one of his big goals for the season, and with a strong team to support him he is in a strong position for his first stage-race win since last year's Tour of Britain, and probably his best result since London 2012. Victory would revive every scribe's favourite Game of Thrones-style narrative: who leads Sky at Le Tour, Wiggins or Chris Froome?


"Jesus! People should know where's the limit with those selfies…"

Spanish cyclist journalist Laura Meseguer reacts to a professional photographer's snap of a young fan taking a snap of himself with an exhausted Marcel Kittel sitting on the floor after his Giro d'Italia stage win in Dublin.


F is for…

Feed zone - Pretty self-explanatory this one: this is where riders pick up their packed lunches. And once upon a time that was what it was like: half a baguette, a lump of cheese and a banana stuffed into the pockets of their jersey. These days it is all a bit more scientific, with rice cakes, gels and carbohydrate drinks all measured out in the correct hourly amounts. Of course, they do not actually stop for food. They grab it in bags called "musettes", or go back to the team car for seconds. There is still a bit of etiquette around feeding, though, in that it is poor form to attack at a feeding zone, and there is also a rule about how late in the stage you can collect more munchies. Chris Froome took the tactical decision to break this rule on a mountain stage last year, figuring that it was better to take a small time-penalty than "bonk" on the last climb. Smart move.

Flamme rouge - This is the small red kite that hangs over the road to show there is one kilometre to the finish line. It is a sign that the suffering on a mountain stage is almost over, but also a symbolic starter's pistol for a bunch sprint on a flat stage.

Fringale - A more poetic term, but less amusing, term for bonking. This is that horrible feeling all endurance athletes have experienced at one time or another when their blood sugar crashes because they simply have not eaten or drank enough. Tours have been won and lost because of this and it feels terrible.

Today's Tour Trivia

French legend Laurent Fignon is most remembered now for two things: the two back-to-back Tours he won with such panache in 1983 and 1984, and the one he lost to Greg LeMond in 1989. Taking a 50-second lead into the final stage, a 24.5km time on the Champs Elysees, it seemed a third Tour victory was as good as his. America's LeMond had other ideas, putting in the ride of his life to beat Fignon by 58 seconds. That eight-second difference is the closest winning margin in Tour history, and it is also the last time the yellow jersey changed hands on the final stage.

It has been suggested the Frenchman would have won without the aerodynamic drag from his trademark ponytail. Whenever asked if he was the guy who "lost the Tour by eight seconds", he would always answer, "No monsieur, I am the man who won it twice." He died from cancer aged just 50 in 2010.

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