Le Tour!

Yorkshire puddings, Wensleydale cheese, Pontefract liquorice, Pikelets, Parkin cake, rhubarb, ginger beer and giant mugs of piping hot Yorkshire tea. The Grand Depart of the world’s greatest cycle race is sure to have a very different flavour this July!

Yes, this year the Tour de France kicks off in Yorkshire. But though the battlefield is different, but the race remains the same. The maillot jaune (yellow jersey), awarded each day to the overall race leader, will be instantly recognisable to anyone remotely interested in the sport. However, the UK start will surely serve as motivation to the group of British riders whose numbers seem to swell within the peloton every year. One such rider is, of course, Mark Cavendish, who will be hoping to claim his first ever yellow jersey in his mother’s hometown of Harrogate.

This would be an enormous achievement, but Cav would probably be the first person to concede that his odds of winning the race overall are hopeless. The race won’t really start to take shape until the second week, when the riders hit the towering peaks and thin air of the Alps. Step forward Chris Froome, another Brit (well, sort of), with ambitions as lofty as the snow-capped mountains he will be racing on! As the defending champion, he is certainly among this year’s favourites, though the competition looks somewhat stiffer thus far.

Now, you can enjoy the action from the comfort of your living room (perhaps with another mug of Yorkshire tea in hand), but have you ever wondered what it might be like to test yourself against an Alpine col? One of cycling’s many unique appeals is that the same roads used in a global event like the Tour can just as easily be ‘enjoyed’ by us mere mortals. Can you imagine turning up at Old Trafford in the hope of having a casual kick about?

Every year we design a Tour de France Special trip, combining the chance to watch a number of stages first-hand with the challenge of tackling part of the route yourself. Some of the climbs can be a humbling experience, but whatever speed you manage, the sense of satisfaction as you crest yet another summit is hard to beat.

Outside of July, we have a number of other trips that follow the roads made famous by the race. Our Alpine Cols of the Tour de France is perhaps the daddy of them all, featuring six challenging stages through grandiose alpine scenery and culminating with an ascent of the 21 hairpin bends leading up to the ski resort of Alpe d’Huez. Perhaps the only other climb that can rival ‘the Alpe’ is Mont Ventoux, an enormous rock that rises to 1912m from the plains of Provence. Our Mont Ventoux Weekend provides the perfect opportunity to conquer this climb over a long weekend.

You could, of course, just head up to Yorkshire to get your Tour fix. But be warned, some of the 25% gradients you may face there are just as tough as their big Alpine brothers!

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