Technical problems twice grounded a plane, meaning both the women's Tour de Yorkshire and stage two of the men's race were run off with minimal TV coverage

Tens of thousands of people were out watching the Tour de Yorkshire today. Both the men’s and women’s races were cheered on, despite inclement weather, by crowds that appeared to outnumber those of the Grand Départ two years ago.

Today is a success story, said Sir Gary Verity. “We saw these crowds in towns all along the route. Tens of thousands of people. Just remarkable, I don’t know where they come from. The weather wasn’t particularly brilliant, but we still got these enormous crowds.”

Unfortunately we only have their word for that as everyone else was left guessing as to what was happening in the big money women’s race that started early on Saturday morning in Otley.

Watch: Highlights from Tour de Yorkshire stage two

The issue was one of safety as the fixed-wing aeroplane that relays footage from the motorbikes back to the editing suites at the finish line was twice grounded during the day.

“It’s the same plane that does the Tour de France, the company does around 30 bike races a year so they know what they’re doing,” Verity said afterwards.

The plane belongs to Pixair Survey, a Rouen based aviation company specialising in broadcasting, surveillance and mapping.

Having circled above Otley for almost an hour before the women’s race started a problem was soon apparent and the pilot flew to Leeds Bradford airport where four mechanics worked on it. Another plane flew in from France to deliver a new part, and a specialist mechanic, and they eventually got it up and running.

Sadly this was too late for the women’s race which lost it’s live feed before the peloton had left the neutralised zone. ITV immediately cut their coverage, switching to angling, leaving many to vent their anger on Twitter.

Footage returned with two kilometres to go but only from the race helicopter that could send pictures straight to the finish where Kirsten Wild picked up the biggest winners cheque of her career.

Watch: Highlights from women’s Tour de Yorkshire

The plane was back in the sky for the men’s race, but not for long. A second problem grounded it once again, and once again ITV had to go without footage. On twitter, Verity was frantically re-tweeting every image and video clip posted by spectators from the side of the road, while voice of Radio Tour, Seb Piquet, did a fine job with pithy updates from the commissaire’s car.

After the men’s race had finished with Sky’s Danny Van Poppel winning the sprint in Doncaster, again with footage returning thanks to the helicopter camera, race director Christian Prudhomme said this was the first time he can remember such a happening.

As for Sunday’s final stage from Middlesbrough to Scarborough: “There will be an operational plane. It’s been fixed and it’s up in the sky now, being tested,” said Verity. “If it’s still up in the sky, it must be working.”

  • Yup, my view exactly. First time I’ve been clearly able to see how race is playing out at the finish.

  • TrevorHoldsworth

    I think I read an article in L’Equipe about this a few years back, but can’t give any more info. Yes, it’s interesting. I think the lower plane retransmits to the upper plane.

  • TrevorHoldsworth

    For me, it was a huge success. Even better than expected because Voeckler won. I’m not a great fan of Voeckler, but this means that there will be a decent sized article in L’Equipe tomorrow, and Voeckler will have fond memories of Yorkshire/England. Thus more French fans will be interested. From a TV point of view, there was a major hiccup, but the organisers held a great race, the riders too, and the crowds were proof of the success. The sponors will have to grin and bear it as far as Saturday is concerned.

  • m100s2

    An aIrcraft (single engined Socata TB-20 Trinidad) with registration F-GVLD spent many hours yesterday at just under 12,000ft circling the mens race, taking off from Leeds Bradford and eventually landing at Doncaster (google that registration and flightradar24 to find details of the flight) It was also circling and following the race route on Friday.

    There was also another aircraft, at around 5000ft that was performing similar tracks, but only displayed with a partial registration ‘B2NP’ That suddenly departed back to Leeds Bradford at around the time the footage of the mens race was lost on entry to Pontefract. Presumably this was the one with the problem.

    There is an online article “How the Tour de France is Broadcast To the World” that alludes to two fixed wing aircraft operation for the TdF, one for the motorbike coverage the other for the low level helicopters possibly because of the terrain.

    Be interested if anyone knows what that other aircraft was doing on the TdY, at 12,000ft it was often above cloud and way out of range of obtaining direct video coverage itself. .Maybe just voice communications?

  • Leodis75

    Totally agree. The amount of non cyclists who lined the streets, the mount of money brought into areas and also the best part the kids who watched, enjoyed and were encouraged to take up cycling. I must add that todays stage is mega and so hopefully will be the best stage yet

  • Cyclosaurus-rex

    Apart from the two out of three days the cameras did work; the spectators, some of whom travelled from outside the country; the local business along the route who have had a surge in business; the cycling fans world wide who have added Yorkshire to their calendars; the local kids motivated to ride bikes some who will become the next generation of pros; and the importance of the women’s race and its standard setting prize fund.

    You’re a very bitter person.

  • Ian Carter

    The helicopter view of the sprint finish was much better than the camera behind the finish line, you could actually see who was ahead!

  • Brendan Power

    The idea of spending public money was to showcase Yorkshire. It didn’t do that so, therefore, it was not a success.

  • Leodis75

    It was a great day watching the women at Harewood, then taking in the whole atmosphere in the area and watching the men at Rigton bank with a smash fest back home.

  • The Awakening

    RE: “Today is a success story, said Sir Gary Verity. “We saw these crowds in towns all along the route. Tens of thousands of people. Just remarkable, I don’t know where they come from. The weather wasn’t particularly brilliant, but we still got these enormous crowds.”

    Good. I am glad that positives are being taken out of the issues involved, because hopefully the Tour De Yorkshire will continue. Even when there are problems, this adds to the history of the event.

    Let us all be positive, next year will be better.