By Nigel Wynn
As crowds gathered in Harrogate today to mark the 100-day countdown to the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire, 12,000 volunteers have been named as official 'Tour Makers'.
The role of the Tour Maker is essentially that of the 'Games Makers' at the London 2012 Olympic Games, serving as guides and offering assistance to anyone visiting the event, as well as marshaling the race and helping at crossings along the race route.
It's the first time that such a large body of volunteers has helped with the Tour de France. Volunteers will receive training and a uniform so that they can be identified.
"The response since day one to the Tour Maker project has been unbelievable, with so many people wanting to be directly involved with this historic event," said Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire. "This project is now becoming a reality – and whatever role a Tour Maker plays wherever that is, they can say for years to come 'I was there and I helped make it happen'".
One of the successful Tour Maker applicants, Heather Smith from Wetherby, said: “I am so excited about this opportunity and I’m hoping to be a flag marshal so my friends and family might see me on TV. I am very much into cycling and cycle myself. I’m hoping to do the Brownlee Triathlon later this year so busy training at the moment. I’ve only ever seen the Tour on the TV so to be part of making it happen will be great."
The 2014 Tour de France kicks off from Leeds on Saturday, July 5 with an opening road stage to Harrogate. Stage two takes place on Sunday, July 6, and will run from York to Sheffield. The race then heads south, with stage three from Cambridge to London on Monday, July 7.