City’s hills alive with cycling frenzy

Mark Cavendish wins Stage 5 of the 2013 Tour de France from Nice to Marseille beating Peter Sagan and Andre Greiple.  3 July 2013. Picture Bruce Rollinson
Mark Cavendish wins Stage 5 of the 2013 Tour de France from Nice to Marseille beating Peter Sagan and Andre Greiple. 3 July 2013. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Two hundred of the world’s top cyclists can look forward to the hills of Sheffield next July.

The exact route of the second leg of the race through Yorkshire is due to be confirmed later this month.

For the moment, it is known that the York to Sheffield section will enter the city from the A628 going through Bradfield, Worrall, Oughtibridge, Grenoside and Hillsborough, skirting Kelham Island on the way to the east end and a finishing point outside the Motorpoint Arena.

The Arena has been chosen partly because it is on a flat stretch for the final sprint and because the venue can accommodate a huge media village. Up to 5,000 media and officials are expected.

The city centre is being avoided because of the congestion and roads around the Northern General Hospital will be protected.

Sheffield’s hills will clearly be the challenge - and the spectacle.

After tackling the terrain of north Sheffield - will Jawbone Hill at Oughtibridge be on the route? - cyclists can expect to face another ferociously steep climb, Jenkin Hill, Wincobank, as they head for the finish.

Once the exact route is known, there will be participation cycle rides across Yorkshire so that local cyclists can get a flavour, and one of the hopes of the whole exercise is to encourage more people to get on their bikes for the sake of their fitness.

Organising the event is a massive logistical exercise which will see the council working with the main backers, tourism agency Welcome To Yorkshire, the Arts Council (Sheffield can expected a share of Yorkshire’s £1m towards a cultural festival), other local authorities and the police.

The Sheffield stage will also see a major collaboration with the National Peak Park Authority, as much of the route is in the Peak Park.

Councillors will discuss the strategy next Wednesday.

The expected financial commitment of £900,000 reflects an ambition of “embracing the event, delivering it to the best of our ability and using it as an opportunity to showcase everything that is great about Sheffield …”

Alternative options of doing nothing or the minimum represents a “major reputational risk” to the city and the prospect of it being seen as “very much the poor relation compared to other towns and cities in the region”.

So the wheels are now firmly in motion.

One of the aims is to recruit more than 500 people to act as volunteers in Sheffield. Council cabinet member Isobel Bowler said: “I know that we can create a superb visitor experience for the followers of the Tour. The whole city will be able to get involved, not only in enjoying the race, but also associated events leading up to it.”

Already the Tour de France has meant one alteration to Sheffield’s major events calendar. The Cliffhanger outdoor activities festival in Graves Park is being brought forward by a couple of weeks.

There will also be no clash with World Cup matches.