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Grand Depart Opening Ceremony in Leeds is a resounding success!

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Grand Depart Opening Ceremony in Leeds is a resounding success!

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TDF opening ceremony

July 4th, 2014

The Ride25 team were lucky enough to attend a sparkling opening ceremony last night at the 10,000 seat Leeds Arena – marking the start of the 101st Tour de France and of course, the Grand Depart in Yorkshire.

This spectacular event was the first time that the Tour team presentation ceremony had been incorporated into an opening ceremony such as this – and what a success it was!  Indeed, Mark Cavendish said ‘My first Tour de France was in London 2007 and there was probably the best Grand Depart I have ever witnessed but I am so confident that will be overshadowed this weekend in Yorkshire.’

The glittering evening was kicked off with a performance by Leeds-based band Hope & Social who performed with 100 other Yorkshire men and women to perform ‘The Band that Anyone Can Join’.

Omega Pharma-QuickstepAll 22 teams, made up of 198 riders, were then invited on to the stage (bikes and all) to address the crowds and chat with the presenters, Tour reporter Sebastien Piquet and ITV sports presenter Jill Douglas about their  hopes for the forthcoming gruelling 2,277 mile and and 21 stage cycling race which kicks off tomorrow for the first stage from Leeds to Harrogate.

Between each team presentation the audience were treated to short films of local Yorkshire people – welcoming the world to Yorkshire in both French (‘Bienvenue à Yorkshire’) and English.  We saw a whole mix of people from all over the county, including nursery workers, school children and some familiar faces including the owner of Mumtaz restaurant who told us that the Tour cyclists burn off 6000-8000 calories per day (equating to about 100 poppadoms!) during the race.  I have a feeling that the team nutritionists will have their elite sportsmen eating something a little more nutritious than that though!

The first biggest cheer of the night went to the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team when Mark Cavendish and his team-mates rode onto stage.  He gave thanks to the crowds and local people saying that ‘the support here is incredible’.

Chris FroomeThe final team to enter the stage (once again to rapturous applause from the crowd) was the British Sky team, lead by Chris Froome.  Last year’s Tour winner, Froome said ‘I can’t say enough how special it is to come back here as a defending champion’.

During the evening, Alistair Griffin and (a heavily pregnant!) Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh performed the official Tour song, The Road.

Gary Verity TdF Opening CeremonyThe final standing ovation of the night (and possibly the longest applause!) was reserved for Gary Verity, the ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’ man. Mr Verity was visibly moved by the reception that he received from the huge crowd but once he had soaked in the atmosphere he stated that ‘It’s a huge honour to welcome you the champions of cycling and the world to Yorkshire. The dream we had four years ago to bring the Tour de France to Yorkshire is tonight a reality.’

The evening was topped by a terrific performance by Yorkshire band Embrace.Embrace at TdF Opening Ceremony



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