When the Tour de France came to Derbyshire

The peleton squeezes around the hairpin at Woodhead

The peleton squeezes around the hairpin at Woodhead - Credit: Archant

Geoff Ford decides that a 4.10am start and a 10-mile walk for five minutes of action was well worth it...

Vasili Kiryienka, Geriant Thomas and Chris Froome of Team Sky at the head of the peleton

Vasili Kiryienka, Geriant Thomas and Chris Froome of Team Sky at the head of the peleton - Credit: Archant

The 2014 Tour de France had it’s Grand Depart with two stages in Yorkshire over the weekend of 5th and 6th July. Stage 2 – York to Sheffield – ventured into Derbyshire for some six miles along the Woodhead Pass. From early morning an estimated two million spectators descended on various viewpoints, with many thousands lining the route through Derbyshire. With the course closed to traffic, many cyclists headed to the Category 2 stage climb at Holme Moss where some fans had camped overnight. By early afternoon, every vantage point was taken.

As the race arrived at Holme Moss for the main climb of the day, AG2R Mondiale’s Blel Kadri had a short lead. Thomas Voeckler of Team Europcar caught the Frenchman part way up the ascent, but Kadri is a strong climber and pulled away to lead as he crossed the summit into Derbyshire. Once over the border the riders headed towards Woodhead Reservoir at around 60mph before taking a tight left turn onto Woodhead Pass.

Kadri arrived at the hairpin 30 seconds clear of the chasing group of five, led by Cyril Gautier of Team Europcar. The peleton was around a minute behind with three Team Sky riders at the front, Vasili Kiryienka, Geraint Thomas and defending champion Chris Froome. Also in the group was Astana’s newly crowned Italian champion Vincenzo Nibali.

With the race back in Yorkshire, the peleton reeled in the breakaway riders with Chris Froome first to reach the top of the days’ final climb, Jenkin Road in Sheffield. Nibali made a decisive move in the final 2km and won by two seconds.

Derbyshire County Council’s Deputy Cabinet Member for Jobs, Economy and Transport, Cllr Andy Botham, declared: ‘It was a fantastic day for everyone involved. Up to 15,000 spectators lined the route around Woodhead with thousands more, including hundreds of cyclists, heading up to Holme Moss. Spectator figures around this spot totalled around 60,000. Thousands of people, mainly on bikes, used the Longdendale Trail. There was a great atmosphere, with the crowds really entering into the spirit of the event... The Manor Park big screen event was a great success too, with over 5,000 people enjoying the carnival and the live music as well as the cycling.’

In what became a race of attrition, Nibali went on to dominate, with three further stage wins on his way to victory, 7 minutes 37 seconds ahead of AG2R’s Jean- Christophe Péraud with Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.FR) a further 38 seconds behind. Marcel Kittel completed first-and-last stage victories, on the Champs-Elysees, on the final Evry-Paris stage.