The spectacle of the Tour de France, right on our doorstep
13:17 05 July 2014
Thousands of cycling fans are gearing up to catch a glimpse of the world’s best riders as the Tour de France comes within touching distance of Norfolk and Suffolk.
Plan your journey
People are being urged to plan their journey as the Tour de France makes its way through the eastern region on
Road closures will be in place in Cambridgeshire and in Essex along the race route. Motorists are also warned that the road network will be busier than usual on the day.
For those travelling to Cambridge, spectators are encouraged to take public transport where possible.
Trains are expected to run to a normal timetable with operators looking to add extra carriages.
Bus operators are looking to run services as close to the normal timetable as possible.
For those driving to Cambridge, cars will be allowed entry to Park Street car park until 7am.
Any cars parked there after 7am can only exit once the road closure is lifted.
Parking will be available at Cambridge Rugby Club on Grantchester Road at £10 per car; open from 7am, closing at 6pm. Free parking will be available at Scotsdales Garden Centre, 120 Cambridge Rd, Great Shelford, open from 6am, closing at 6pm. Castle Hill car park will be open as normal. Grafton East and West car parks will be open as normal but are expected to be very busy. Cars will not be able to park on roads along or near the route.
When the Tour of Britain came through our counties two summers ago, the passion of cycling lovers shone through as tens of thousands of people lined the streets to cheer on the cyclists.
The same carnival atmosphere is set to be recreated on Monday – but tenfold – as the 101st edition of the world’s most demanding bike race makes its way through Cambridgeshire and Essex.
It will give spectators the chance to see some of the cycling world’s biggest names – including last year’s Tour winner Chris Froome – on British shores for the first time since the event came to the UK in 2007.
Monday’s 155km (96 mile) stage of Le Tour will start in Cambridge at 12.15pm and will see the pack of riders – the peloton – pedal its way through Saffron Walden, Chelmsford and Epping.
Get the most out of your day
• Check the local weather forecast on the day and come prepared – big umbrellas or sun-cream and hats may be in order.
• Bring a bottle of water if you think you might be standing outside for long periods.
• Choose a sensible and safe location to watch from. Don’t try to stand on high buildings and put yourself or others at risk and don’t cross the road without due care and attention.
• Plan your journey and allow plenty of time to travel as the roads, car parks and pavements are likely to be very busy.
• Don’t get too close to the moving convoy or obstruct its path. Keep dogs on leads and children close by.
• Organise a way to keep in touch with your family in case you get separated and talk to your children about what to do if they get lost.
• Do keep an ear to the radio and Twitter in case of any last minute announcements.
• Don’t put yourself at risk if you are likely to struggle to stand and wait for long periods, especially as there are limited provisions for toilets and water along the route.
• Be considerate when standing near to personal property and be mindful of residents/businesses who might be requiring access to their property while you wait for the convoy.
Le Tour aficionados from across Norfolk and north Suffolk will be travelling to Cambridge, Essex and beyond to be part of the occasion.
Lewis Pendle, 26, from Trowse, will be going to Cambridge with friends to watch the start before catching a train to London for the finish. He said: “I haven’t seen the Tour before so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Paula Lee, from Wymondham, is planning to cycle to Cambridge on Monday morning to see Le Tour. Together with a group of cyclists from Velo Club Norwich, she will set off on the 150 to 190-mile round trip at about 5.30am. The 46-year-old, a partner at Leathes Prior and who is currently in training for an Ironman event, said: “I am genuinely excited. I am driving up to Yorkshire on Saturday to watch it on Sunday, then driving back to Norfolk afterwards, then cycling to watch it the next day.
“I have seen the Tour in France – the time trial which saw Bradley win and the next day on the Champs-Elysées when Mark Cavendish won the sprint and Brad the Tour.
Times and Places
For many in Norfolk and north Suffolk, heading to Cambridge to watch the Tour is the most logical and easiest place to get to. Here is what will be happening on the day.
Monday’s stage will start on Gonville Place, near the Gonville hotel, in Cambridge city centre.
8.30am: The Big Weekend, on Parker’s Piece, will be open with a cycling village, French market and activities. There will also be a large screen showing the race as it unfolds.
10.15am: A carnival procession of vehicles, including sponsors handing out giveaways, will follow the race route, taking about 45 minutes.
12.15pm: The race will begin with a ‘neutral start’ where the athletes cycle the start of the race gently to warm up before the flag goes down to indicate the official start as they head out of the city centre.
5pm: The Big Weekend closes
Just before the race, athletes will register at a small stage known as the ‘signing-in podium’ on Parker’s Piece, near the Start Arch on Gonville Place, where a compere will greet the crowds.