Ey Up Le Tour
July 6, 2014 7:55 AM   Subscribe

The Tour de France has arrived in Yorkshire.

The Tour de France hadn't captured the British attention much until a series of predictable doping scandals was followed by Bradley Wiggins becoming the first Brit to win the Tour in 2012.

This year the first stage of the Tour is taking place not in France but in Yorkshire. The locals are out in force this weekend on bikes and in yellow clothes; language guides have been provided to help supporters understand the local lingo, and Yorkshire people have been celebrating the event in a wide variety of ways.
posted by emilyw (44 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Well someone's got to deliver the Hovis.
posted by w0mbat at 8:20 AM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is marvellous, my FB feed has been full of friends enjoying the Tour this weekend. Looks like it's really captured the imagination of the public and all for less than the price of a stadium.
posted by arcticseal at 8:21 AM on July 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

"22,000 miniature jerseys have been knitted by members of the public to be strung together as bunting ready for the Tour de France when it hits Yorkshire this summer."
posted by GrammarMoses at 8:50 AM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Some photos of the bunting in situ.
posted by GrammarMoses at 8:52 AM on July 6, 2014

What an amazing finish today and the crowds were just incredible. If you do one thing today, make sure to watch a replay of the last 10k.
posted by photoslob at 8:57 AM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

What with bunting and birds nests, I'm fully expecting the next Tour winner's bike to be knitted.
posted by arcticseal at 9:05 AM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

photoslob's right, and of course I can't help but point out that one of my all time favorite riders, at 42 years young, in his final Tour before retirement; the inimitable and highly quotable Jens Voigt somehow managed to bookend the exact feat he pulled in the first stage of his neo-pro Tour in 1998 - by going on a monstrous solo breakaway, winning the climbs of the day, and capturing the mountain leader's polka-dot jersey. Sure he may only hold it for one day, and the real angels of the mountains will eclipse those paltry points totals in the later weeks on the giant cols but even so, once you win a Tour jersey, even for just a day, you get to keep it in your trophy case for a lifetime.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:23 AM on July 6, 2014 [8 favorites]

It's been wonderful to see how Britain has embraced the Tour, and vice-versa, and it's looking to be a good race so far. And yes, I am averaging yelling Jens' name at least twice per day, just for the sheer joy of watching him show up in the coverage.
posted by kalimac at 9:30 AM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

What I was thinking about while listening to the Belgian commentary as the Tour wound its way through Yorkshire was how much northern England feels like a proper part of Europe at times like this, much more so than the south.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:36 AM on July 6, 2014

I'm hopefully going to go and see it wend its way through picturesque old Essex tomorrow.
posted by dng at 9:37 AM on July 6, 2014

arcticseal, a "knitted bike" is actually not that far outside the realm of possibility (although not terribly aerodynamic, it sure looks cool).
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:47 AM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't forget the sheep cams.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:06 AM on July 6, 2014

Great result for Jensie, yesterday.

Not so much for Cavendish, who crashed on the sprint into his mother's hometown (it was his own damn fault, which he has been classy enough to admit).

Or Wiggo, who seems to be on the outs with both Froome, and Sky's management, and who wasn't even included in the team for this tour.

Trouble at t' mill?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:10 AM on July 6, 2014

We used t' dream of 'avin bike race in our street. We couldn't even afford roller skates.
posted by Decani at 10:24 AM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Roller skates? Luxury! Our dad used to roll us down 'ill in a barrel.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:52 AM on July 6, 2014 [6 favorites]

Great stage today. That route would make a great one day spring classic. I was out in Otley yesterday to watch but I had to stay in and see the whole of this one today.
posted by vbfg at 10:54 AM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

yep they were saying in the pre-stage analysis how similar the Stage 2 profile is to Liege-Bastogne-Liege, which is a monument in its own right and one that riders will target an entire classics season towards capturing. To put it into a 3-week grand Tour is awe inspiring! Chapeau to the UK and Yorkshire - I have heard for decades from UK racers how brutally difficult the riding is in that region and I was still impressed.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:59 AM on July 6, 2014

I shouldn't worry so much for Cav and Wiggo when you've got next-gen talent like Geraint Thomas riding for your side, tbh.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:01 AM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Man those narrow streets looked scary in today's second stage. I can't believe they even fit 200 riders and all the associated team cars up those narrow hill climb streets. Totally insane crowds to boot.

Also, yeah I was cracking up hearing half my Twitter feed say Cavendish is all washed up and should retire (he's maybe 29, right?) while Jensie did that breakaway at more than 42 years of age and won the polka dot jersey breaking the record for the oldest ever holder of it.
posted by mathowie at 11:10 AM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I almost didn't click to read this post because I've really enjoyed the first two stages of this year's tour and didn't want it spoiled by the usual metafilter "All pro cyclists are dopers" hate comments. Well I clicked anyway and discovered that it wasn't happening. So thanks for that, folks.

As for the tour itself, I think having something other than flat stages for the first week is a good thing. The excitement level is up and there has been none of the "The tour doesn't really start until the second week" commentary.

And as for Cavendish, my heart breaks for him. In an interview today he had the proper perspective, pointing out that he was riding for people serving and in comparison what happened to him was nothing.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 11:30 AM on July 6, 2014

Anyone know if Jensie is going to be a regular commentator for NBC over the next 3 weeks? I'd pay to hear that guy read the phone book.
posted by photoslob at 11:56 AM on July 6, 2014

In other news, I dropped two yellow jerseys today, and successfully attacked a polka-dot one on a climb. I figure if I outsprint someone in green, I should have a lock on the combination jersey in the Tour de Fred.

At the very least, they should give me the (f)red numbers tomorrow.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:59 AM on July 6, 2014

Anyone know if Jensie is going to be a regular commentator for NBC over the next 3 weeks? I'd pay to hear that guy read the phone book.

Anything would be an improvement on Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, who are starting to sound like your old aunt and uncle, who never had kids, and are starting to go a bit senile, but no-one wants to say anything.

Heck, at this point, even Bob Roll would be better!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:02 PM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I swear if I hear Liggett say the words "dancing on the pedals" again I'm going to shoot my tv.
posted by photoslob at 12:16 PM on July 6, 2014

Occasionally, Eurosport has Sean Kelly doing cycling commentary, and he's actually quite good.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:32 PM on July 6, 2014

Because a decent chunk of the people I follow on Twitter are Sheffield Wednesday supporters living in Yorkshire, I've been catching a lot of excitement (and some frustration about road closures) on Twitter. The big thing they've been posting are photos of Sheffield Wednesday messages along the tour route. (And obligatory overhead shots of Hillsborough.)

I also have the commemorative bottle of Henderson's relish with cyclists on the label. It's pretty crazy to sort of get into the spirit from so far away, but that's the charm of social media I suppose.
posted by kendrak at 12:33 PM on July 6, 2014

LOL @ post title. Yorkshire's proper good.
posted by ZipRibbons at 12:48 PM on July 6, 2014

Clearly the invisible barrier intended to keep the Henderson's Relish secret inside Sheffield has failed. Don't know what I pay my Yorkshire taxes for. Don't put that stuff on any pies, it's nasty.
posted by emilyw at 12:49 PM on July 6, 2014

Roller skates? Luxury! Our dad used to roll us down 'ill in a barrel.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:52 PM on July 6

Wooden barrel? You were lucky! Our dad used to roll us down 'ill in flamin' tractor tyre studded wi' rusty nails. AND we 'ad to carry tyres up hill first. Wi' our teeth!
posted by Decani at 2:26 PM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I love Yorkshire. Made one of my first 'friend on the interwebs' back in the mid nineties who was Yorkshire born and bred and have visited often. The buzzfeed link was really nice, especially the one about the local sporting event.
posted by infini at 2:30 PM on July 6, 2014

Really amazing atmosphere in Leeds yesterday and Cragg Vale today. There were people well ensconced by 9am. Crowd got a bit intimate at Buttertubs yesterday, but this footage just shows what the usual crowd reaction has been like.http://youtu.be/-j59kEnFymo
posted by asok at 3:27 PM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

> mathowie: I know it seems silly in the face of Chris Horner and Jens Voigt kicking ass in their 40s, however it's actually true that Cavendish is running on borrowed time for the sort of winning he's good at. Pure sprinters like Cav who have that super peak fast twitch jump in the last ~100-50 meters do actually hit the wall a bit at 30 and their top speed leaves them rapidly thereafter. Your endurance increases up to about 40, sometimes longer, but even Jens Voigt has admitted that he can't win even from a small group anymore; ten years ago for him that was definitely not the case; in his earlier years he was frequently marked as the most dangerous sprinter in a small group even after a 100km break. These days he has to do it alone - he said in his interviews yesterday that he didn't even have the speed to contest the 2 young guns he was with early on in Stage 1 for the climber's points; he was forced to drop them and go on that classic Jensie mad solo adventure to guarantee the jersey. And, as he says in my favorite Jens quote of all time that's rarely reprinted in the US because swears: "How are they going to catch me? I'm motherfucking Jens Voigt!!"

Cavendish is 30 this year. He may do ok in classics that suit him in years down the road, especially if he is capable of cultivating more of a "passista" (power rider like Jens) style but arguably this year and maybe next year were his last years to win a crapload of bunch sprints in grand tours. We've already seen him getting beaten in straight up drag races by younger top form guys like Kittel in the past 18 months when 3-5 years ago his speed in the last 100 meters was untouchable.

And that goes even without the speculation about whether he'll ever regain top sprint form. That was a bad crash. He not only dislocated his collarbone, he also ruptured every tendon in his AC joint. His shoulder is, as they say, proper fucked. Aside from the physiological damage and recovery, part of what makes these sprinters so good is their insanity and mental ability to take huge risks; and judging by his remorse at the events, his ego (which is another very big part of being a top sprinter) may be on the wane. Good thing? Sure, he could be a bit of a twerp, truth be told, but that kind of take-all-comers bulldog attitude is also what makes these guys winners.

I don't know if you ever saw or remember ages and ages ago in 1994 the horrible "policeman's crash" in Armentieres when Laurent Jalabert and Wilfred Nelissen piled into the barriers - it effectively ended Nelissen's career as he was a pure speed Cav-type sprinter and he destroyed a leg and his mental fortitude for the old argy-bargy. Jalabert, notably, also said that crash made him lose his nerve for the big bunch runs and thereafter he worked very hard on his training, power and form to develop into more of a Sagan-type passista for the classics and stage races.

Even George Hincapie started out early in his young career as a very good sprint finisher and in his first few Tours there were talks of him giving a go as a green jersey contender; unfortunately for him he never had quite the top end or the team support to really go for it.

Being a top sprinter is no fucking joke. Check out this awesome InCycle seat-and-bar-cam footage from inside the bunch sprint at Stage 5 of this year's Tour de Romandie. It's unbelievable that Sagan stayed upright, although he's arguably one of the, if not the, best bike handlers in the pro peloton. You get to see firsthand the close quarters and insane bumping and checking these guys do at 35mph. It makes downhill racing look positively tame by comparison. They posted this video on Pinkbike, which is a big testosterone-fuelled dirt site full of big-bike pad-and-full-face-helmet junkies who are all about dropping 2 story gaps and getting the sick air backflip superman style, and the comments were stacked with "woah, no thanks man, roadies are nuts!".
posted by lonefrontranger at 4:29 PM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

The peloton cruised right past my flat in York this morning! It was great fun. We made an epic English breakfast for a bunch of our friends and then we all stood on the street sipping Buck's Fizz and watched it all go by. I feel really close to everyone I know here because all day the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds have been filled with pictures of the tour from various parts of town. It's like I know exactly where everybody was standing today at 11am.

Needless to say, I've been following cycling more these days than I ever have in my entire life. Great stuff.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:37 PM on July 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

It has been a very interesting first two days. Even with (thankfully!) no prologue, my favorite TT'er, Cancellara, has been in the mix. He went off on a flyer yesterday inside the last kilometer and could have stayed away. That move may have very well spared him from getting caught in that idiotic crash caused by Stumpy. Too much argy-bargy there, Cavendish!

Stage five looks to be rather sporty as well.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:07 PM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Follow some of the riders on Strava if you want to feel truly inadequate. Here's Laurens ten Dam's ride for today. Other riders (including Ted King) are linked from there.
posted by klanawa at 7:05 PM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

That incycle video is awesome. So what's the deal, do they have cameras in almost every bike at the front/rear or just some select bikes?
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:14 PM on July 6, 2014

RustyBrooks, the InCycle project is something Shimano and Team Sky have been working on this year with some of the race organizers; specifically IMG for the Romandie. Others are rumored to be in the works. It's terrific stuff; I'm hoping in future they can work on live feeds to enhance broadcast coverage.
posted by lonefrontranger at 8:29 PM on July 6, 2014

I once heard rumor that they were going to fit the cyclists with ant+ gear and everything needed to broadcast the data in real time but I never saw anything like that. I'd like to see the data annotated with speed if nothing else.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:41 PM on July 6, 2014

computech_apolloniajames - Spartacus was right there in the mix in Stage 2, and now that I see they're including the Carrefour de l’arbre and the Orchies sectors from Paris-Roubaix, I can pretty much guarantee you'll see some fireworks from him on Stage 5 because those are officially I'm-not-fucking-about pave sectors.

fun fact: the Carrefour sector is colloquially known as the "slaughterhouse" pave which is apt because it's perhaps one of the most brutal sections besides the Arenberg, which is in an entire class of its own. I'm now wondering if they're going to break out the pave bikes and fat tubies for that stage; it wouldn't surprise me in the least.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:49 PM on July 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

> Follow some of the riders on Strava if you want to feel truly inadequate

No need. It takes me an hour to get to the top of Oxenhope Moor and they did it in ten minutes. I think it's time I realised forty year old fat lads rarely turn pro.
posted by vbfg at 4:24 AM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

There is a slight problem over reckless selfies in front of the peloton.
posted by Segundus at 4:27 AM on July 7, 2014

Check out this awesome InCycle seat-and-bar-cam footage from inside the bunch sprint at Stage 5 of this year's Tour de Romandie.

Christ! It must be hard enough doing that normally - but while riding backwards too?? Insane.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:48 AM on July 7, 2014

Segundus - no joke. Velonews has had something to say about this too. The general feeling is that to some degree it's new fans to the sport who are not well versed in fan etiquette for cycling and that things should improve in France where the fan base is a bit more knowledgable.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:29 AM on July 7, 2014

Went to watch it in Leeds on Saturday and Sheffield yesterday. Fantastic crowds and atmosphere. There's a report in the Guardian calling it a 'tunnel of noise' which I think is spot on. Reminds me of the Olympics in 2012 just lots of happy people appreciating the occasion.

I do however think more education about providing the cyclists with space would have been good. Didn't see anything about this until I watched the feed on Saturday evening. On the whole though the crowds seem to have been well behaved. I read about the potential nightmare of a crowd stepping back, leaving a small child in the path.

Can't believe they have still got 18 days left! Superhumans.
posted by 92_elements at 11:02 AM on July 7, 2014

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