After the excitement of the Team Presentation on Thursday night, the day we had been looking forward to for months was finally here – The Tour de France was about to set off in our county of Yorkshire. Saturday morning all of us at Pennine Cycles got up early and set off to Harrogate where the race would finish many hours later. The day and weekend would prove to be, in the words of Welcome to Yorkshire CEO Gary Verity, the ‘Grandest of Grand Departs.’
Paul, Sandra, Caroline and Keil all set off from Bingley to Harrogate. The train into Leeds was very busy, even at 7.30am. It seemed most people were going to watch the start. We had decided to watch the finish a long time ago. The train from Leeds to Harrogate was much quieter. Once we arrived in the spa town we went for breakfast in Betty’s. It was going to be a long day and we needed to be fully fuelled! Out of the windows we could see the finishing straight was already getting busy with people reserving their prime spot. There was also lots of cars heading past, many of them members of the press to get themselves ready.
Once we had finished breakfast, the sun was shining and Harrogate was very busy already! We were able to watch the start of the race on the big screen. The scenes in Leeds looked incredible. The amount of people watching the sport we love was more than we could have dreamed! Paul was happy to have found some Tour de France special Krispy Kreme doughnuts too!
Not long later, after a quick look around some of the stalls it was time to part ways. Paul and Sandra were kindly invited by Barclays Bank to the VIP hospitality area. Here they had a delicious meal and were then taken over to the grandstand for a great viewing seat. Unfortunately they were enjoying themselves too much to take any video or photos. Sometimes it’s just more important to watch the race and soak in the atmosphere! They were fortunate enough to see Marcel Kittel whizz by to win stage 1. If you follow our Facebook or Twitter you may have seen this photo with Sandra and Marcel taken when his team were in the area doing their recon. So she gave him an extra cheer!
Meanwhile Caroline and Keil made their way to the Fan Park. On the way they saw all the team buses arriving. In the park there were lots of food stalls which were very busy and a few stands to look around. It was a good viewing spot as there were a couple of big screens to watch how the race was unfolding. Thankfully the sun shone and they enjoyed watching the race from here. It was very busy and there was a great atmosphere, they felt this was much better than being on the very busy streets of Harrogate and would be watching the race the rest of the weekend too.
Once the race had finished Caroline and Keil had a look around the team buses and cars area. Although most of the riders hop on them quickly once they have finished they did see the Net App team cooling down. They also got up close to Simon Gerrans who had been brought down in the Mark Cavendish crash. He was being interviewed by the media about what happened. They managed to get a wave from Matt White too, one of Caroline’s favourites when he was riding!
Once the crowds has dispersed slightly it was time to head home. There was a long queue for the train back to Leeds but we managed to get on one within an hour which wasn’t too bad. We were soon home reflecting on a wonderful day and ready for another fantastic day watching stage 2.
Where did you watch stage 1? Comment below!