VIDEO: Fans raced for Le Tour finish in Sheffield

The race for the finish line began hours before the Tour de France Grand Depart left York for Sheffield - with fans turning up at the crack of dawn to line the route, writes Graham Walker,

Thousands of people took their place for the final hundred meters while Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali was still dreaming the dream over breakfast.

Tour de France 2014 Stage 2 winner Arena 'Vincenzo Nibali

Tour de France 2014 Stage 2 winner Arena 'Vincenzo Nibali

They came from just down the road, from all over the country and even abroad to welcome bike hereos in the steel city.

And they were in fun mood, singing, dancing and chanting the names of their favourites.

VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our special video report

John Paul Walker had his face painted up with the Tour de France logo. He said: !I love the Tour de France. Coming to our home city is just amazing.

Tour de France 2014 Stage 2 - Sheffield Motorpoint Arena  Finish Line 'Geraint Thomas, second-right among the second pack to come through across the finish

Tour de France 2014 Stage 2 - Sheffield Motorpoint Arena Finish Line 'Geraint Thomas, second-right among the second pack to come through across the finish

“ You’ve got to be here and we got our place early, watching it on the screen and then waiting for the guys to arrive.”

Wife Ruth said: “I’m really excited to be here because we watch the tour de France ever year and we couldn’t believe it was coming to Sheffield.

“When they announced it we were ecstatic.Really excited about it.”

John Ryalls, of Chesterfield, said: “It’s just fab for the city.It’s where I was born. I love the city still and we’re outside where the Don Valley Stadium was. I came here when the World Student Games were on. Everything in sport happens down here. It’s brilliant.”

Elaine Havenhand, from Lincoln, said: “I’m here because my husband brought me. It’s a once in a lifetime thing for the Tour de France to come to Yorkshire.”

Chris Johnson, of Chesterfiled, said: “It’s fantastic. I’m very much into European community, i spend part of my life in Spain because I’ve a house there, so the whole thing works for me to be honest. And I’ve taken a day off especial to be here.”

Anne Pryce, from Wales, said: “I came to see Mark Cavendish. But him being out now, I’m here for Alberto Contador.”

Dominic Stokes, General Manager of SIV Events, said: “It puts us on the world map.We’ve hostedsome phenomenal events over the years.

“But to have the eyes of the world, the media and the population watching it, it just puts us back in that shop window. The world can see us”

Families also basked in the sunshine as they waited for the riders at a special spectator hub, with big screen, deckchairs and lots of fun events near the finish line, at Don Valley Bowl.

A Poetry Takeaway Service desk was manned by Sheffield’s Matt Black, offering poems for customers and a quick rhyme of advice for the riders. He smiled: If you want to get a medal, pedal, pedal, the beginning, eat lotsd of Yorkshire puddding!”

Nine year old Jenson Howe, sporting a painted-on curly French moustache, said: “It’s very exciting to see the riders come past on the main road.”

Brother Carter.”

Dr Rava Badrakalimuthu, had made the journey with his young son, Yuva, aged six. He said: “It’s a very, very special day, especially because it’s the first day my boy has started biking himself without stabilisers.So it’s wonderful for him to come here and watch people riding in the race.

“We’ve come all the way from Hampshire so my boy will get more enthused.”

Scott Barton, of Yellow Bus Events, who organised the Don Valley Bowl experience, said: “We’ve organised the After Dark fireworks event here for nearly 20 years. So to use the same venue to organise a hub for the world’s biggest annual sporting event is great for us and for the city.”