VIDEO: Tour de France arrives in Yorkshire

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More than a million people lined Yorkshire’s streets for a spectacular royal start to the world’s greatest bike race, the Tour de France Grand Depart - watch our video report.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, joined by Prince Harry, welcomed the biggest annual sporting event to Britain at Harewood House, Leeds.

Up to three million people are expected to watch the Tour’s two-day visit to Yorkshire, which ends today in Sheffield.

VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our latest video report.

MORE VIDEO: Watch our amazing time lapse of video of the route, from Oughtibridge to the Sheffield Motorpoint Arena finishing line - CLICK HERE.

And it really did get off to a flying start on Saturday, with an overhead display by the RAF’s Red Arrows.

They left a trail of red, white and blue vapour - the national colours of France and the UK.

Initial estimates are that over one million spectators lined the route, including 230,000 in Leeds centre and over 10,000 on Buttertubs, the steep climb.

More than a million people are expected to watch the Stage Two finishing in Sheffield and it’s been suggested that up to 60,000 of them could be on Jenkin Road - the hill which is expected to sort the ‘men from the boys’.

Sir Rodney Walker, Chair of TdFHUB2014 Ltd, organising the race locally, said of Stage One: “Today has been a massive success with well over one million people enjoying the sporting action along the route. Spectators have had a fantastic day they will never forget and Yorkshire has been showcased to a massive global audience.

“It has taken a huge amount of planning and teamwork, so thank you to all of our partners, and especially our stewards and the Tour Maker volunteers for all of their hard work.

“Today has set the tone for the next two days, and we look forward to seeing more huge crowds lining the route to watch the world’s best cyclists in action.”

Leeds City Council leader Coun Keith Wakefield said: “What an amazing experience that was. The atmosphere of the crowd, the excitement, the colour, the noise, it was all absolutely incredible and is something I will never forget. Hosting the Tour de France has been the biggest event in living memory in Leeds, so thank you to everyone in the city for making this such a historic and successful occasion. The Tour organisers, teams and riders have been absolutely blown away by the welcome they have received here so everyone involved and all those who cheered and clapped at the roadside on Thursday night and this morning should feel very proud. We wish all the riders well now as they head out to explore the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.”

Crowds of fans cheered loudly as the cyclists gathered outside the 18th century stately home Harewood House, where they took off their helmets as they were greeted with a rendition of the French and British national anthems, performed by the Band of the Corps of Royal Engineers.

The Duchess of Cambridge, wearing a bottle green Erdem coat over a green Suzannah dress and carrying a grey clutch purse, the Duke and Prince Harry then chatted with the lead riders.

British reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome looked relaxed ahead of the 101st Tour de France as he talked to the royal party, while Mark Cavendish - who was hoping to win today’s sprint finish - beamed and appeared to thank Kate for coming.

The duchess then cut the ribbon in front of the Peloton to officially start the race.

The royals had driven down the long drive to the grand house and were met by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and members of the Earl of Harewood’s family. The earl’s three-year-old grandson, Otis Shard, gave the duchess a bouquet of flowers.

The trio seemed to enjoy the casual atmosphere outside the house - with William and Harry both wearing open necked shirts and jeans with a blazer.

All three responded to shouts of “give us a wave” from the crowd. But the biggest cheers were reserved for the Tour riders who cruised down the tree-lined drive preceded by race director Christian Prudhomme in a pink car with the man who brought the event to the UK - Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity.

The Duke and Duchess and Prince Harry watched from just next to the start line as the teams sped down the hill and out of the park, and William was heard to say: “The only better view would have been on the back of one of those motorbikes.”

Cycling fever has gripped the nation and hundreds of thousands of fans lined the streets of Leeds to watch the start of the race.

Spectators flocked from all over the country to cheer on Froome as he hopes to retain the winner’s famous yellow jersey he won last year, while excited locals will be hoping fellow Briton Cavendish will pedal to victory in the first stage in his mother’s home town of Harrogate.

The 198 racers enjoyed clear skies and bright sunshine as they left Leeds town hall at 11am in a leisurely ceremonial start, and began racing in earnest when they departed Harewood House.

Riders will pedal 190.5km from Leeds to Harrogate, weaving through the Yorkshire Dales and Moors and taking in three ferocious climbs.

Tomorrow they will arrive in York for a stage taking in some of the most challenging climbs in Britain, ending in Sheffield.

After the Tour’s launch, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry visited the small North Yorkshire village of West Tanfield.

Thousands of people, who had lined the streets since early this morning, cheered as the royal party arrived in a convoy of Range Rovers.

There was a carnival atmosphere in the small village, which has a population of around 500, and the streets were decked with bunting and yellow bicycles, stalls; there was live entertainment, a fairground and a hot air balloon festival for visitors.

The village, near Ripon, has even commissioned its own beer from the Pennine Brewing Company - the Tour D’Ale - in celebration of the sporting event.

Mr Clegg, who represents the Yorkshire constituency of Sheffield Hallam, used Twitter to urge viewers watching the race to get on their bikes. He wrote: “All eyes are on Yorkshire today for #TDF #GrandDepart - but if we want a lasting legacy we need to get more people cycling.”

A teenage boy suffered leg injuries after what police described as “a team vehicle which formed part of Tour de France convoy” hit the youngster.

West Yorkshire Police said the accident in Ilkley happened at about 12.39pm.

A spokesman for the force said: “He was treated at the scene and has been airlifted to hospital with leg injuries.

“His condition is stable and police enquiries remain ongoing at the scene.”

A woman has been airlifted to hospital with head injuries after falling through a roof while watching the race.

The cycling fan, believed to be in her forties, is understood to have climbed on to the roof via a first-floor window to get a better view of the race.

North Yorkshire Police said they were called at around 12.30pm to reports the woman had fallen through the roof at the Corn Mill on Chapel Street in Skipton. She was treated at the scene by ambulance staff and taken to hospital by helicopter.

Police said the route of the Tour de France was not affected by the incident.

On Monday the Tour moves south to Cambridge with a stage ending beneath the gaze of Buckingham Palace on The Mall in central London - which was also the final finishing line in the 2012 London Olympics cycling road race.

The Tour then goes to Ypres in Northern France to mark 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.

After 21 stages and some 2,272 miles, riders will finish on the Champs Elysees in Paris on July 27.

Britons have won the past two Tours, and the nation is hoping we can continue our reign of dominance and retain the title.

Sir Bradley Wiggins, 34, claimed the crown in 2012 becoming the first British winner of the toughest cycling race on the planet, while Froome, 29, sped to victory last year.

The nation will be crossing its fingers that three is the magic number and Froome, who is the overwhelming favourite, can defend his title.




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