When Sunday July 6
Where are we?
Today we will see some of the best countryside northern England has to offer as we head from North Yorkshire, into West Yorkshire, over the border briefly into Greater Manchester and south into Derbyshire before finishing in Sheffield, which is in South Yorkshire. On the way, the race passes through Holmfirth, where the long-running BBC comedy Last of the Summer Wine was filmed.
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What’s on the route?
With nine categorised climbs on the way, this stage bares Yorkshire’s teeth. The climbing starts early and again it is the uncategorised climbs that add extra bite. The first named climb is the wonderfully evocative Côte de Blubberhouses after 47 kilometres. That’s only a fourth-category hill but it gets tougher with the third-category Côte d’Oxenhope Moor, Côte de Ripponden and Côte de Greetland before 120 kilometres have been covered. The stand-out climb will be the Côte de Holme Moss, known to cyclists all over the north of England, but it is the flurry of hills in the final 35 kilometres that will frighten the general classification contenders. There are two third-category climbs and two fourth-category climbs in quick succession. No wonder the organisers have compared the profile of the stage to that of the one-day Classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
What might happen?
Anything could happen, and that’s why the likes of Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali will be on edge. The big bunch, still anxious, still fresh and barely settled into the Tour will be concerned about the uncertainty that lurks ahead. There’s potential for chaotic, uncontrolled racing and positioning going into the climbs will be of paramount importance. If any of the favourites finds himself in trouble we could see a combined effort to make life very uncomfortable for them.
If you’re there
Once the riders have rolled out, visit the National Railway Museum, home to more than 100 locomotives and rolling stock that tell the story of rail travel. Or, walk around the city walls and visit the stunning York Minster, the largest gothic cathedral in Europe.
If the opening stage looked stunning to the television audience, this one will be spectacular. The scenery will be green, and dotted with sheep (many of which will be painted yellow, green and polka-dot for the weekend). This stage takes us from the North York Moor and dales into the Pennines and Peak District. Each area has its own subtly different characteristics.