On the opening day of the 2014 Tour de France race the peloton will come within about 40 miles of my front door as it barrels through the town of Hawes, in North Yorkshire, and the fact is I haven’t quite come to terms with the idea of the Tour de France passing by so closely. There are certainly a few issues that need a bit of working through:
On day 1 the route will take the peloton over the legendary Buttertubs Pass; one of Yorkshire’s great climbs (and quite brilliantly named). Now, I’m very much in favour of us Brits going all out to create an alpine atmosphere to spur the riders on, but if I close my eyes and picture the scene, all I can imagine is Alberto Contador dancing on the pedals pursued by a gasping Yorkshireman in a mankini.
When it’s a swarthy Italian or a sun-tanned Frenchman doing the Borat impression, half way up the Stelvio or Alpe d’Huez, it can be very funny, but a Yorkshireman…in Yorkshire…?
No-one wants to see this.
On the route for day 2 the race will be skirting dangerously close to the ‘rhubarb triangle’, an area of Yorkshire where the mythical ‘forced rhubarb’ is grown in darkened sheds. Is it just me who finds the whole idea of ‘forced rhubarb’ a bit sinister? I mean, we are supposed to be moving into a new era and a looking ahead to a bright future for professional cycling; are they going to add it the banned list? Is there even an effective test for it?
But what really alarms me is how the famously straight talking Yorkshire folk will cope with the evocative language of the Tour de France and the exotic customs of professional cycling. The concept of the soigneur, for example, might be a difficult one for the locals to process:
A man…? ‘avin a massage…and shavin’ ‘is legs…?
Not in Yorkshire pal!