As the Dare 2b Festival of Cycling gears up for the Grand Depart, BikeBiz speaks with the team behind the Harewood House-set show

‘Cycling in Yorkshire is like a religion’

Even the marginally interested realise that the Tour de France will be starting in Yorkshire this year, but for cycle enthusiasts, there will be little else on their minds come July. Directly tapping into that passion is new cycle event the Dare 2b Yorkshire Festival of Cycling. How will it be taking advantage of the world’s greatest cycle race? And how can the trade get involved? Busy marketing manager Oli Bloom takes time out to speak with BikeBiz…

Can you explain the concept behind the Dare 2b Yorkshire Festival of Cycling?
The Dare 2b Yorkshire Festival of Cycling is taking place on July 4th to 6th 2014 at Harewood House, location of the ceremonial start of the 2014 Tour de France. The festival will give thousands of cycling fans the opportunity to camp next to the Tour de France route, watch the world’s best riders race through the grounds of one of England’s finest estates and enjoy a packed weekend of entertainment. Live music, inspirational talks, an interactive BMX stunt-zone, film screenings and bespoke mountain bike trails are just a few of the other attractions that will accompany a participation events schedule, delivered by Human Race, that includes individual and team time-trials, duathlons, family rides, criteriums, trail running and unique led-rides to other vantage points on the Tour route.

Will there be opportunities for attendees to cycle in the ‘footsteps’ of the pro riders? Will places be limited?
The route the peloton will take through Harewood House is the only private road being used for Yorkshire’s Tour de France Grand Depart and visitors to the festival will be able to ride up and down it all weekend, before the riders come through and after they’ve left. Not only that, they’ll be able to compete in any number of time-trials and criteriums. Because getting around the Dales will be such hard work throughout the Grand Depart, we’ve teamed up with West Yorkshire Police to offer festival visitors the opportunity to get into the Dales on specially designed led-rides to other amazing vantage points on the Tour route. These rides will be really special and a great way to see the race after it has left Harewood. Places are limited, but good value at £25 per head.

We hear there’s already a buzz in the areas the Tour rolls through – are you hoping to tap into that excitement with the Festival?
We already are. We’ve sold thousands of tickets and we expect to sell thousands more. Cycling in Yorkshire – a bit like cricket – is a religion and we want to put on an event that celebrates that.

Will you be competing with World Cup audiences, or will they be catered for?
We’ll be showing the World Cup quarter-finals live on big screens around the festival site so England fans, assuming they’re still in the competition, have nothing to worry about!

What pro cyclists will be appearing?
Loads of celebrities, including cyclists, will be coming along to get involved in the rides as well as watch the Tour go by. Local girl Lizzie Armitstead will be joining us on Saturday 5th July and 2006 Tour de France winner Oscar Pereiro will be at Harewood House all weekend. We’ve also managed to persuade the Brownlee brothers, who grew up training on Harewood’s lattice of bridleways and footpaths, to set times to be beat on the trail run and cycling time-trial circuits.

Are you seeking trade exhibitors?
Yes. Our exhibition so far consists largely of cycling and outdoor brands, with over 50 signed up to take part. But we’d like to have more and we believe it’ll be a great place for brands to be seen and to engage with the public. The exhibition stands are right next to the Tour de France route through Harewood so unlike during the Olympics when many brands were sent to distant corners of the Olympic Park, companies will benefit from a great location with large footfall. The exhibition will be a major part of the festival.

What size crowd do you anticipate?
It’s really difficult to say. Welcome to Yorkshire say that 880,000 people will be lining the Tour route on stage 1 and we expect between 20,000 to 30,000 of them will be at Harewood, with up to 15,000 camping all weekend. It is the Ceremonial Start after all and the first iconic location of this year’s Tour.

Obviously Le Tour won’t run through Yorkshire every year, but can you say whether the event will return in 2015?
The Tour won’t be back, but the festival will become part of the legacy of its visit to Yorkshire and an annual event. We think Yorkshire needs a cycling festival to rival the best festivals in the country and Harewood is a fantastic setting for it to take place. So the plan is for 2014 to be a fantastic event and for 2015 to be just as good!

This article originally appeared in the May issue of BikeBiz. You can read the whole May 2014 issue online here. On the same link you can leaf through three whole years worth of BikeBiz magazine, if you’re so inclined.

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