Tour de France visit tops a brilliant 2014 season

Looking back, 2014 was of course all about the Tour de France in Yorkshire — how couldn’t it be? These weren’t just the busiest, most important days in British bike racing history; those two stages were landmarks for the Tour itself and UK sport in general. Was it even better than London 2012? It was a close call for most cyclists.

Turn to page 27 of this week’s Cycling Weekly magazine, the opener for our review of the year, and there’s a picture I almost made it into. Not much of a boast, you would think, but considering the company I was keeping, getting even that close to the Royals on the start line at Harewood House on stage one wasn’t bad.

The Red Arrows were overhead, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with Prince Harry, were chatting to the riders while the Prime Minister and his deputy rushed around looking important. That’s how big cycling has become. On that Saturday afternoon in July, there simply wasn’t anywhere better to be.

After an equally stunning Sunday on the roads to Sheffield, the stage-three finale in London suffered by comparison — but it was still superb. It may have rained but the route from Cambridge was packed and there was a great atmosphere along the Mall at the finish. It was the third day of Tour fever, of brilliant bike racing in Britain.

Indeed, 2014 has been a very special year.

Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly