I am so impressed with the level of effort the people of Yorkshire have made to host the Tour de France. It is more than decorating windows and dressing the Black Prince statue in a yellow jersey (shout out to yarn bombers: nice job). They seriously raised the bar by staging a team presentation show both exciting and heartwarming.
The Leeds Arena held 10,000 fans cheering for 22 teams and some really interesting entertainment. Hosts interviewed a couple of riders from each team so we got to cheer madly for Mark Cavendish and Jens Voigt and see Peter Sagan’s new hairstyle (huh?). The final team to appear was Britain’s own Team Sky and the crowd went wild.
During the warm up local television hosts talked about how proud they were of Yorkshire. I hope they get a boost of self-confidence from this because they have done themselves properly proud.
I had a lovely chat with the man on my left, Leigh and his friend, both avid cyclists.They are not from Leeds originally but they love living here and stepping out their back door and into a countryside that still looks like the set of All Creatures Great and Small.
Several teams alluded to the fact that their recon trips for Stage 2 have been much more challenging than expected. Stage 1 and 2 should be very exciting. When you combine tricky roads and a lot of short 16 degree descents plus nerves, there should be some crashes and a lot of strategic racing.