2013-12-05  facebook twitter rss

Tour de France Planning Goes Into Overdrive

Staff and Members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority are stepping up a gear in their preparations for next year’s Tour de France Grand Départ.

The Grand Départ Stage 1 will leave Leeds on July 5 for a breath-taking, 190-kilometre ride through the National Park to Harrogate. The route will go along Wharfedale, Bishopdale, Wensleydale and Swaledale, with climbs over Kidstones from Wharfedale into Bishopdale, Buttertubs Pass from Wensleydale to Swaledale and then out of Grinton towards Leyburn.


And on the following day the cyclists will skirt through the southern edge of the National Park as they ride past Bolton Abbey on their way from York to Sheffield.

With just over seven months to go, there have already been numerous meetings with National Park communities, landowners, and farmers along the route to find out what facilities and events they want to stage.

Following the launch in August of a grant scheme to help communities celebrate the Grand Depart, the YDNPA has already agreed £12,000 in grants to parish councils to go towards the cost of Tour-de-France-related events. A second round is now being launched to share out the remaining £5,000 and has been extended to include any parish council in the National Park that hasn’t previously submitted an application.

National Park Authority Chairman Peter Charlesworth said: “The staging of the Grand Départ is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase this amazing area to people all over the world – with the added bonus that it also coincides with the 60th anniversary of the creation of the National Park.

“An estimated 400,000 people are expected to line the route within the National Park and for all the businesses and communities, it’s a chance to boost their incomes like never before. And we are pulling out all the stops to encourage the spectators to visit us again when the Tour de France has long gone.

“It’s an absolutely huge thing to happen and it has to be planned to the finest detail – everything from litter collection to traffic – if we are to make sure it goes smoothly and has a minimum impact on the land and the wildlife. That means we are working closely with parish, district and county councils, the emergency services and all the other organisations and groups that have a stake in the National Park.”

National Park Authority Rangers are meeting with farmers and landowners along the route and working with Natural England to make sure the planning for the event takes into account the fragile landscape, and important wildlife habitats.

In addition, traffic management plans are being drawn up to accommodate the increased number of vehicles. Key to this are car parks and campsites along or near the route, and the Authority is keen to hear from anyone who is interested in running one on their land.

Earlier this year the YDNPA launched a revamped Cycle the Dales website for cyclists and visitors wanting to explore the National Park on two wheels ahead of next year’s event. The website – at www.cyclethedales.org.uk – contains a huge range of routes along with downloadable maps and descriptions, and information about classic hill climbs and the Tour de France.

And the YDNPA has been helping cafés, accommodation providers and tourist attractions to offer bike-friendly facilities by providing free bike stands and bike rings to install outside their premises, as well as free cycle repair kits. The Authority’s Recreation and Tourism team has also started sending out
e-newsletters to parish councils and any interested businesses, keeping them up to date with the latest Tour information in the National Park.

The YDNPA also launched its own four-minute-long video highlighting the amazing road cycle routes in the National Park – complete with commentary by world-renowned cycling commentator Phil Liggett.

David Butterworth, the YDNPA’s Chief Executive, said: “The Tour de France is a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It’s the world’s largest annual sports event, it’s entirely free for spectators and it’s coming through our dales, towns and villages. We hope that as many people as possible – local residents as well as visitors – really enjoy the Tour de France weekend and it is our intention to do all we can to make that the case.”


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