YOU MAY have noticed, but Manchester and cycling have become best buds.
The route will pass along a section of the B6138 and A58 adjacent to Blackstone Edge reservoir, before continuing on to Huddersfield and Sheffield.
British cycling was buoyed by the building of the velodrome in Manchester's Sportcity in 1994. This is now considered to one of the finest such facilities in the world and also hosts both British Cycling and Team Sky (the latter currently throwing money at the sport like they're... well... Sky I suppose). All this combined with National Lottery funding, the legacy of the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games (don't mention the Olympic bids), has propelled Britain to the top of the international cycling tree.
Domination of elite cycling, a haul of international medals that had other nations drooling with envy, two consecutive Tour de France winners and over two million of us now regularly jumping on two wheels - was aided and abetted by the spoked roots planted in Manchester.
SportCity and the sport of cycling also proved the catalyst for the regeneration of East Manchester - the relocation of Man City helped to push things along, mind.
Still, not bad for a former coal mine.
Now the sport's most famous race and the third largest sporting event in the world will fly out of Yorkshire and into Greater Manchester, Littleborough in Rochdale to be precise, for 1km during Stage Two on Sunday 6 July.
Here's everything you need to know:
- The race, established in 1903, takes place over three weeks and covers 3,500km, with twelve million spectators expected to line the route.
- The race last came to Britain in 2007, when there was a prologue in London, followed by Stage 1 down to Canterbury.
- GET THERE EARLY. Organisers suggest that spectators should be in their spot by 10.30am.
- The route will pass along a section of the B6138 and A58 adjacent to Blackstone Edge reservoir, before continuing on to Huddersfield and Sheffield.
- The caravan will arrive at 11.30am (the caravan is a spectacle in itself, a procession of 180 floats and vehicles preceding the racers and throwing souvenirs out to the crowds).
- The actual race is expected to arrive on the stretch at approximately 1.45pm.
- 22 teams compete in the Tour, each team contains nine riders, meaning a total of 198 riders (some may pull out beforehand).
- The Rochdale section contains a sharp turn as riders turn onto the A58, meaning this will be the best spot for spectators, but also one of the busiest to find a view.
- This stretch will be one of the most interesting spots of the entire race, as it is the culmination of one of the longest continuous climbs in England.
- If you're unable to get to the route itself, there'll be viewing on a big screen in Harehill Park, Littleborough, alongside other entertainment.
- The overall leader of the race rides in the famous yellow jersey.
With hundreds of thousands expected at the race on Sunday, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) have laid on a number of additional services.
Metrolink will be running enhanced services to Rochdale all weekend, with every other tram to Rochdale being a double tram. Northern Rail has also increased capacity on services between Manchester and Rochdale, Hebden Bridge and Littleborough.
There will also be a special bus service operated by First from Manchester City Centre to Mytholm via Rochdale early on Sunday morning, as well as a shuttle service taking people between Littleborough Rail Station and Cragg Vale - one of the key points of the second stage - which has been provided by Rochdale Council.
Road users need to be aware of severe disruptions and road closures in the area.
Dan McMullan, Head of Communications and Customer Service at TfGM, said: “Whether you are going to watch the Tour de France or not, you need to plan ahead. Roads and public transport services will be busy, so please make sure you don’t get caught out.”
TfGM can provide all the information about the Tour de France coming through Greater Manchester and how to get around on the day visit: www.tfgm.com/tourdefrance
Find out more information about the Rochdale stage here.
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