The Tour de France 2014 was the 101st edition of the world’s greatest cycling event.
It was the second time that the start of the race was in the UK, and only the third visit.
This time the honour fell to Leeds, with Stage 1 being run from Leeds to Harrogate (190kms). The winner after a sprint finish was the German Marcel Kittel, from the Skil-Shimano Team, while Mark Cavendish contested the sprint, he suffered a bad crash in the final few metres and was unable to continue in the race.
Stage 2 was York to Sheffield (201km) with the outright winner being the Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali with the Astana team.
The final stage in the UK was another sprint, Cambridge to London (155km), with Marcel Kittel again taking the honours.
The race moved across the Channel, via Euro-Tunnel to Le Tourquet-Paris-Plage, with a finish in Lille.(163kms)
The eventual overall winner was the Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali from the Astana team.
There were no British Riders in the Top Ten.
Out of the 164 riders who finished the race, there was only one British Rider to finish – Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) in 22nd place.
Chris Froome, (Team Sky) was one of the pre-race favourites, however, he was involved in a very bad crash on Stage 4, but was cleared to continue riding.
Stage 5 was raced on very wet roads, with heavy rain falling all day. After 3 more crashes during the day, he badly injured his wrist and had to withdraw.
The Tour de France 2007, was the 94th running of the Race, and took place between the 7th July and the 29th July.
The Tour began with a prologue in London, and ended with the traditional finish in Paris. Along the way, the route also passed through Belgium and Spain. It was won by Spanish rider Alberto Contador. (Discovery Channel).
There were 2 Stages in the UK – Stage 1 was an Individual Time Trial in London (7.9kms), and then Stage 2, a flat stage, London to Canterbury (203kms).
The race was marred by the number of riders found to have doped prior to or even during the race.
Two teams withdrew (Cofidis and Astana) after riders were found in violation of the doping rules, and at least 6 riders were banned from continuing.
Two dogs were involved in separate incidents, causing injuries to riders who ran into them (Stage 9 and Stage 16).
In 1974 the tour made its first visit to the United Kingdom, with a very short and embarrassing circuit stage on the Plympton By-pass, near Plymouth, England.
The race took place between the 27th June and the 21st July., with a visit to Plymouth on Stage 2 (The beginning of the race was a Prologue.)
The stage was 174 km, 5 times up and down the newly completed Plympton By-pass. It was won by Henk Poppe (Netherlands) in a tightly contested sprint finish.
The 1974 Tour, was the only one Henk Poppe ever entered.
The UK had never entertained anything like the Tour de France, so the course was very strange. Many suggestions of why the course was as it was, as other options were available – Dartmoor and the New Forest for example.
However, the organisers claim that that is the course that the French organisation picked. I don’t think we will ever know the truth of the matter.
But you can be sure, it was 33 years before the TdeF returned.
It is rumoured that the Tour may return in 2026, with funds having been put aside by the Government.
We will just have to wait and see.