The atmosphere today on the Côte de Greetland (known locally, more prosaically as Queen Street, Hammerstones and Blackley Road) was wonderful. Half the population of the small town of Elland (c. 20,000) must surely have been somewhere along the hill. I was brought up on Blackley Road and my parents still live there so it was the most logical place for family and friends in which to gather. The roads had been closed from early in the morning leaving it a place free of motor vehicles (apart from the ‘official’ ones of which, admittedly, there seemed to be many) and slowly, the crowds began to gather. Initially just a couple of camping chairs and their occupants but within just a few hours the road was thronging. Quite extraordinary scenes the like of which I have never seen before and will probably never see again. We should do things like this more often in Britain. Perhaps after the experience of the last two days, we might start… You can see the cycling itself on the ITV Player if you missed it live on the television. I purposefully took no photographs as the breakaway group or peloton passed by preferring to cherish the moment itself (Update: See the bottom of this post). I did however try to capture the atmosphere both before and after the cyclists had climbed the ‘côte‘:
Update: Since posting the above images, I have been contacted by Dan Buckley (@DanTheBuckle on Twitter) who was standing only a few metres above me on the Côte De Greetland and who did take some pictures of the cyclists. Here they are:
Update from the police…
Inspector David Shaw:
“I had the privilege of working the Tour de France on Sunday and was the sector commander for the West Vale and Blackley sector of the race. I also worked closely with my colleagues who covered the other two sectors of Ripponden and Hebden Bridge/Mytholmroyd.
I would like to put on record how proud I am as the Valley Inspector of all the residents and supporters from all over the country who turned out and got involved in this amazing sporting spectacle!! The atmosphere was electric and is one of the friendliest I have ever worked as a Police officer. Everyone on the route was happy and enthusiastic and considering the size of the crowds and the long wait for the riders everyone was impeccably well behaved. I spoke with some people who had been on the route since 5am!! The generosity extended to me and my colleagues and indeed all the tour makers was very much appreciated. I particular appreciated the offer of some suntan cream when I had started to turn red.
For those on my sector you will have seen and heard me with my loud hailer keeping everyone up to date with where the race was!! There was also some siren entertainment for the kids who wanted me to pretend to be Kevin from despicable me and even some Mexican/Calderdale waves!!
The feedback received from everyone involved in the race has been immensely positive and everyone is especially proud to have been part of making the Grand Depart a massive success for Yorkshire. This is in no small part down to all of you as residents of the Valley!!
I hope the tour returns soon!!”