'Lycra welcome here' - Leeds proves that the British public love to get behind a big sporting occasion

Yorkshire goes cycle mad for Grand Depart

Yorkshire has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the Grand Depart.

BikeBiz saw first hand how Leeds city centre has given itself over to the race in a big way, while on the way to the Tour de France Opening Ceremony last night, held at the Leeds First Direct Arena.

From statues decked out in yellow jerseys, to inflatable giant bicycles, bunting, queues for Official Tour Merchandise and seemingly every business in the area sporting something cycle-related, the way the city and its businesses has got behind the Grand Depart is, frankly, breathtaking. No shrug of indifference here.

Meanwhile, at the Opening Ceremony, covered here by our own Carlton Reid, every team and rider took to the stage for a brief introduction, with huge cheers predictably saved for Team Sky, Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan, among others.

Those team introductions were flanked by short films about bikes, opera singing, band Embrace, one fifth of Girl’s Aloud and all in front of over 10,000 spectators. It was an impressive affair and clearly intended to show that Yorkshire (and by proxy, the UK) was capable of rising to the occasion of Le Tour – and that the Great British public is very much up for this.

Leaving the city, it was easy to walk away with the impression that the hard work put in to make the Yorkshire Grand Depart as spectacular as possible has surely paid off. International sporting events on home turf can be a catalyst and with the wind continuing to blow in cycling’s direction, the trade’s bean counters will surely be hoping that all this public goodwill for Le Tour will ease a few extra pounds out of the pockets of consumers.

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