Tour de France 2014 Stage 2 West Vale Yorkshire

Tour de Yorkshire

Tour de France Logo - West Vale
Tour de France Logo – West Vale

Well I’d be the first to admit that I’ve never really paid that much attention to the Tour de France. When I found out that the first 2 stages of the 2014 tour, were to take place within an hour of where we live, I thought let’s see what all the hype is about.

Fun Facts about the Tour de France

Here’s a few fun facts that I discovered about the Tour de France while I was doing some research.

1. The youngest ever stage winner was Henri Cornet aged 19 in 1904. I could’t believe it when I saw a man dressed as him on one of the bikes. See the picture in the blog.

2. There are usually between 11-15 million spectators that line the route each year.

3. Riders burn around 124,000 calories during the tour.

4. If you cycled the entire course you’d sweat enough to flush 39 toilets…nice!!

5. The Tour de France inspired both Kraftwork and Queen to write songs.

Polka Dot and Yellow Tour de France bikes
Polka Dot and Yellow Tour de France bikes

Stage 2

I put a message out on Facebook to see if any friends could give me any advice on an accessible area to view stage 2 of the race from. Stage 2 ran from York to Sheffield and covered 201km. One of the suggestions was the Yorkshire village of West Vale,  which turned out to be both a fantastic little village but also a great place to watch the race. I tried to learn a few of the cycling terms/phrases that I’d heard people mention before I went, so I wasn’t a complete novice.

Cyclist getting into the Tour de France spirit - West Vale, Yorkshire 2014
Cyclist getting into the Tour de France spirit, dressed as Henri Cornet the youngest ever stage winner in 1904 age 19

Family Fun

I went to the race with my wife and eldest son, as well as 3 other friends. To secure a good view we had to get into position a good 4 hours before the main Peloton was due to pass. What I hadn’t realised is that there would be so much to see before the main event. There was a real fun and party-like atmosphere to the event.

My son adds his name in chalk to the road. The kids were encouraged to do this.
My son adds his name in chalk to the road. The kids were encouraged to do this.

Everywhere you looked people seemed happy, there were families, groups of cyclists, jugglers, side shows, food stalls and even a parrot! I kid you not, a young boy had brought his pet bird to watch the race.

A boy brings his Parrot to watch the Tour de France.
A boy brings his Parrot to watch the Tour de France.

The Caravane

About an hour before the race the fun picks up a notch as the Caravane makes its way around the course. Playing music and throwing things into the crowd, the kids loved it.

The Festina caravane Tour de France 2014
The Festina caravane Tour de France 2014

 

Fun during the Tour de France caravane, Yorkshire 2014
Fun during the Tour de France caravane, Yorkshire 2014
Vintage Citroen joins the Tour de France 2014 caravane as it passes through West Vale
Vintage Citroen joins the Tour de France 2014 caravane as it passes through West Vale

The organisers did a fantastic job of keeping everyone safe and made a special effort to get the crowds in the Tour de France spirit. I think the crowd thought this Police officer was going to do a ‘burn-out’ right in front of them.

A Police motorbike geeing up the crowd in West Vale, Yorkshire
A Police motorbike geeing up the crowd in West Vale, Yorkshire
The Fruit Shoot vehicle passes through West Vale, Yorkshire.
The Fruit Shoot vehicle passes through West Vale, Yorkshire.

I’m not sure but I think even the model Caprice may have been there.

Enjoying the Tour de France...could this be Caprice?
Enjoying the Tour de France…could this be Caprice?
McCain Oven Chips
McCain Oven Chips

As you can see it was fun for all the family as the last of the pre-race Caravane passed through the village.

Fun for everyone during the Yorksire stage of the Tour de France 2014
Fun for everyone during the Yorksire stage of the Tour de France 2014
Teisseire Zero through the Tour de France 2014
Teisseire Zero during the Tour de France 2014 caravane

Race Start

After the buzz of the Caravane had passed everyone eagerly awaited the main event. I had been warmed up nicely but to say I wasn’t ready for what was to happen next was an understatement. Over the horizon we could hear the helicopters. I think there were about 6, the cheers from the crowds could be heard from the top of the hill, then the breakaway group came into view.

Perrig Quemeneur of Team Europcar leads the race
Perrig Quemeneur of Team Europcar leads the race
Bart De Clercq and Cyril Lemoine
Bart De Clercq and Cyril Lemoine
Armindo Fonseca - Bretagne-Séché Environnement Team
Armindo Fonseca – Bretagne-Séché Environnement Team

The First Group

The speed that they came down the hill was incredible and really tested your speed using a camera. Within seconds the first group had passed. So it was time to recompose and wait for the main Peloton to come down the hill.

BMC Racing Team lead the main Peloton
BMC Racing Team lead the main Peloton

Fisheye Photography

I had a great shot in mind, that I thought would be different but as things panned out it wasn’t great. I’d set a remote camera on top of a monopod that I would get my wife to hold up high. I was expecting, as in other areas of the course for the riders to fill the whole width of the road and thought if I shot with a 15mm Fisheye lens this would give a completely different image.

Tour de France with 15mm Fisheye
Tour de France with 15mm Fisheye

As you can see, although it’s still a different looking image, which I do quite like, there is too much empty space in the foreground as the riders kept there racing line through the bend.

The riders of the Garmin Sharp team in the Peloton
The riders of the Garmin Sharp team in the Peloton
Sébastien Reichenbach drops into West Vale
Sébastien Reichenbach drops into West Vale

On the outside of the main Paleton was two of the Astana Pro Team one of them being Vincenzo Nabali who went on to win Stage 2.

Vincenzo Nibali Stage 2 winner
Vincenzo Nibali (centre) Stage 2 winner

Final Thoughts

So as the day drew to an end, I have to say I am a Tour de France convert, it was fantastic to watch. I’ll certainly be watching as much of the rest of the race as possible. I think Yorkshire did the country proud, with over 2.5 million spectators watching the tour. At the end of the day it was about having fun and I love this last shot of a couple of local teenagers that came down the hill to the cheers of the crowds.

Tour de France future stars
Tour de France future stars

Thanks for reading my blog, please like and share if you enjoyed it. If you would like to find out more about my photography, please visit my website Images of Nature. I run a video production company, if you would like to find out about video production, please visit the website Vivid Photo Visual.

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