In 2014 the Tour de France will stage it’s Grand Depart in the UK for the second time since the 2007 London depart.
This time around the northern county of Yorkshire will play host, with two tough stages across its rolling country roads. These exact roads will likely become an early test for the peloton. We decided to preview the route with descriptions and photos of key points.
York – Sheffield
If the first half of Stage 1 was characterised by small, winding country lanes with short, sharp climbs, then Stage 2 will prove to be quite the opposite. The majority of this stage will pass through more built up areas on faster, wider roads with longer ascents that will all add up to quite an impressive day of racing. The route has been described as a copy of Liège-Bastogne-Liège due to the length and types of climbs that includes three Cat 4, five Cat 3 and one Cat 2.
It is likely the peloton will take it easy from the start of the race as it navigates the road furniture passing through towns and villages. Expect strong support from the locals, similar to the Irish welcome for the Giro d’Italia which the riders will definitely take the time to enjoy. Not until Blubberhouses with 154km to go will the roads start to narrow and the racing will likely start picking up.
Highlights of the stage will surely be the climb at Cragg Vale (Cat 3, 97km from the finish) which boasts the longest continuous assent in England, and Holme Moss (Cat 2, 61km from the finish) which with it’s radio transmission mast at the summit, and barren surroundings has sometimes been referred to as England’s Mount Ventoux.
The finale will provide quite a spectacle with the climb up Jenkins Road. While it is only 800m long the maximum gradient is 33% – which will more than likely favour the climbers at the finish. With Michał Kwiatkowski’s strong performance at Liège-Bastogne-Liège expect to see him fighting hard for the stage win if he is in form.