The White Stuff: Biggest sporting weekend ever won’t overshadow Yorkshire’s 48 hours in spotlight

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The Tour de France is edging closer by the day.

The Tour de France is edging closer by the day.

It is now just four months until the world’s cycling fraternity turns its focus on Yorkshire as hundreds of the finest tuned athletes, and their instruments, ride into the town.

Preparation is in full swing, the volunteers are being chosen, the camp-sites are selling out and the roads are swollen up by more cones than an ice-cream stall in sunny Scarbados.

The Grand Départ will be the greatest show-piece of sport Yorkshire, and certainly North Yorkshire, has ever hosted.

Possibly not since Royal Ascot toured north to York Racecourse in 2005, has there been so much excitement, both sporting and non- so, for an event up here.

Harrogate has also escaped the scheduling worries that could have the national focus.

With the Wimbledon tennis finals, the Silverstone F1 Grand Prix, and England’s inevitable quarter-final World Cup exit all also primed for the weekend of July 5-6, it will be the channel hopper’s idea of TV sporting heaven.

But thankfully, North Yorkshire’s moment in the spotlight will not clash with the other events.

By the time Mark Cavendish and co roll in Harrogate at 4.20pm on the Saturday, the public already know who the women’s champion of SW19 is, and who has qualified on pole in the F1.

When the peloton passes the following day at mid-day, there will still be two hours before Andy Murray, hopefully, steps out on court to defend his Wimbledon crown.

And with the football in Brazil set for evening viewing, that won’t steal our county’s time to shine either.

I, like many others I’m sure, never imagined my first experience of watching the Tour de France live in front of my eyes, would be on the the roads that I have used all my life.

Having tried to understand the ins and outs of the Tour over the last few years, I still know very little.

While it may look on the surface like a simple bike race, with the fastest to the finish winning, there are so many intriguing facets to the sport.

We are all hopeful a bunch sprint will allow Cavendish - whose mother was born in Harrogate - the chance to fly through and claim the adulation of the town’s public.

Here’s hoping there is no repeat of the Olympic road race, when Cavendish and his Great British teammates were left unawares to a breakaway and crawled home placed in the mid-30’s.

From what has been said, the first stage looks suited for a lead-out train, and a Manx missile charging from the back.

With that, it’s all set up nicely for a perfect ending.

PS: Here’s a response to last week’s The White Stuff: Surely it’s time for a rethink over controversial last-man rule.

Rob Edwards wrote: “I see that you are jumping on the television-inspired bandwagon to get rid of the last man rule. I remember the 1980 Cup Final with Willie Young’s cynical foul and don’t wish to go back to that. If defenders want to stay on the pitch then all they have to do is stop fouling people – simple.”

Cynical last-man fouls must stay as a red card. But the referee’s must be given some slack to decide how deliberate these fouls are.

Tweets of the week;

Jonny Lally (Harrogate Town)

@JonnyLally

As a thank you for the away support over last two games, all of us as Staff and Players are paying for the Supporters bus to Alty #Enjoy

Ben Coad (Yorkshire CCC)

@BenCoad10

Thanks to @DLCA_AU for having me for the past 6 weeks been a good experience and a good laugh with the lads, 24 hours later and I’ll be home

Caitlin Chang (Fencing)

@Chinpanzeeee

2 up 4 down. Not my best but glad to be back competing on this stage & to get 2 senior world cup victories for Jamaica in a quality field

Lee Barraclough (Bardsey)

@LeedsBelter

This week’s man of the match in our 2-1 win was @John1Swift. Like he’d never been away

Simon Wood (Harrogate Railway)

@simonwood85

Cashed in our “get out of jail free card” today. 2-2

Mike Morton (Tadcaster Albion)

@morton1984

I am physically and mentally drained. Every emotion as a coach/manager! Wow.