It’s been seven years since the Tour de France graced British soil. The biggest bike race in the World visited us last in 2007, when London hosted the Grand Depart.
Aside from that, the Tour has only been to Britain on two other occasions – in 1974 and 1994. So you see, it could be some time before Le Tour comes back to us, so we reckon it is worth enjoying every minute of this 2014 visit.
Today, 198 (we hope – well, that’s the number of riders who started on Saturday) will rush through London. The riders will finish on the Mall, having began at Cambridge, whizzed through Essex, sprinted out of Epping Forest and into the capital.
Timings can never be exact, but the race is expected to leave Cambridge at 10:15am, arriving in London at around 1:10pm, in Redbridge. By this point, the riders will have covered 119km. From then, you’ve got 50 minutes to see the race as it makes its way across the city, with an estimated end of 2pm outside Buckingham Palace.
Here’s a look at where and when you could catch the race:
|Epping Forest (The Sprint)||12:56||14:43|
|Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park||13:26||15:11|
|West Ham Lane||13:26||15:11|
|Tower of London||13:52||15:35|
|Houses of Parliament||13:58||15:40|
|The Mall (The Finish)||14:00||15:42|
These timings, to us at London Cyclist, seem like the perfect late Lunch Break friendly arrangement, and if your boss is feeling lenient, hopefully you’ll be able to stay out a little longer and enjoy the buzz.
It goes without saying, but do expect town to be busy, and delays are a given. For information on travel disruption, check out the TfL’s dedicated site here.
If you are after a hassle free experience, we recommend finding a pub on the route that is not far from your wok/home. The entire route will be lined with spectators, and the race will always pass by with a whoosh that takes less than a minute, wherever you are – so you are best off finding somewhere you can relax, soak up the atmosphere, and enjoy that one minute with a fighting chance of a good view.
The race is preceded by ‘The Caravan’. Don’t be expecting a clapped out VW. Just under 2 hours before the first riders (1hr42, we make it) the Publicity Caravan will come through. The Caravan is a spectacle in itself – expect a procession of vehicles and decorated floats to pass through. If you’re near enough the barrier, be ready – badges, caps and sweets will be thrown to spectators.
The caravan takes about 40 minutes to pass, and it’s a piece of Tour history, so well worth getting to your race viewing point early to catch a glimpse.
If you want to soak up the atmosphere with guaranteed dedicated cycling fans, the fan parks at Trafalgar Square and Green might be up your street, and there is also one at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
On Monday, the Trafalgar Square Fan Park will be open from 12pm – 8pm, and the race will be played live on a big screen under Nelsons column. There will of course be plenty of food, entry to the Tour de France museum, and live entertainment.
Once the race reaches it’s crescendo, you’ll be not far from The Mall, so you can get over to watch the finale if you’ve got your elbows ready, or perhaps a pair of stilts to see over the crowds.
At the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, live streaming of the race will take place from 11am – 5pm, at Hopkin’s Field, opposite the Copper Box Arena.
Caution at The Mall
Obviously, the chance to see the bunch sprint hurl itself onto The Mall, perhaps even see our Cav take the win, is a tantalizing opportunity. However, to get close to the barrier, expect to be camping at least overnight. Otherwise, you’ll mainly be enjoying the spectacle, and the atmosphere, but seeing very little of the action itself.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.