Double dose of Tour fun and thrills for Craven

Craven Herald: (7958815) (7958815)

CRAVEN got a double dose of Tour de France fever as the riders and their massive entourage twice passed through the district during the Grand Depart in Yorkshire.

Stage One of the event headed from Leeds and Harewood House up through Otley and Ilkley and then into Addingham, a community which would itself experience on both the Saturday and Sunday of the race.

From there it was across the North Yorkshire boundary into Draughton, and then into a packed Skipton, its population swelled to an estimated 35,000 for the event.

The crowds in the High Street and the nearby spectator hubs were treated to the colourful Tour caravan, then the three leaders shot through, a few minutes ahead of the main group.

There were huge cheers as the riders cycled down Otley Road and New market Street before entering the High Street.

Then it was away and into the Dales, where more enthusiastic crowds greeted the Tour at Rylstone, Cracoe, Threshfield, Kilnsey, Kettlewell, Starbotton and Buckden before the first big climbing challenge at Kidstones - or Cote de Cray, as it is now known.

But that wasn't the end of the Grand Depart excitement. The following day it was Stage Two, and the riders headed back into Craven after starting in York and passing through Harrogate. They raced down Beamsley Hill, past Bolton Abbey and then turned once more to Addingham, before heading over the tops to Silsden. Here they got another rapturous welcome before the route took them to Keighley, Haworth, and ultimately into South Yorkshire.

The Tour has moved on, but its impact is likely to felt in this area for a long time to come - and it leaves behind many happy memories of one of the biggest days in Craven's recent history.

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