2.5million northerners line route of Tour de France

The Peloton rides past as stage two of the Tour de France passes York Minster
The Peloton rides past as stage two of the Tour de France passes York Minster

The second stage of the Tour de France started in York and finished in Sheffield yesterday with 2.5m people having lined the route around Yorkshire over the weekend.

The stage was won by Vincenzo Nibali after 124 miles (201km) of punishing roads and hill climbs.

British rider Mark Cavendish was out of the race after a fall on Saturday.

The crowds were so dense in some places that riders struggled to pass at some points while in some areas late-comers were turned away.

Sir Rodney Walker, chairman of the tour organisers TdFHUB2014 Ltd said: “Around 2.5 million spectators lined the route over two days and revelled in being part of history.

“The passion of the crowds in Yorkshire has really made this a weekend to remember.

“There has been a huge amount of planning and hard work from all the partners involved to ensure the first two stages were a success.

“We have once again showcased how the UK can deliver amazing events and a world-wide audience has seen the best of Yorkshire, and the best of the UK.”

BBC reporter – and former Hartlepool Mail man – Dave Edwards, at the event’s Police Silver Command in Wakefield, said officers had asked stewards to redirect people from Oxenhope, Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd and High Bradfield because of the huge numbers of spectators already at those sites.

The police command centre later said there were 60,000 people at the Holme Moss site.

The 197 riders faced some of the UK’s toughest climbs in yesterday’s stage.

One of the focal points for spectators was Holme Moss on the Yorkshire/Derbyshire border - the highest point on the stage at 1,709ft (521m).

The route passed through Harrogate, Keighley, and Huddersfield before reaching Sheffield, taking in areas made famous by the Bronte sisters and TV series Last Of The Summer Wine.

More than a million people lined the route of stage one of the Tour between Leeds and Harrogate.

Along Sunday’s route the riders tackled nine categorised climbs, which were given French prefixes, including Cote de Holme Moss and Cote de Jenkin Road, in Sheffield.

The route also pitted the competitors against Cragg Vale - the longest continuous ascent in England.

The first stage of the 2,277-mile (3,664km) race began in Leeds with riders processing to Harewood House, where the race was officially started by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

The peloton passed through towns and villages including Otley, Skipton, Ilkley, Hawes, Leyburn and Ripon (just 40-odd miles from the Hartlepool area) before a sprint finish saw Germany’s Marcel Kittel claim victory.

British rider Cavendish, who had hoped to win the stage in his mother’s home town of Harrogate, crashed close to the finish.F

ellow Briton and 2013 Tour winner Chris Froome finished sixth on Saturday.

Today the third stage will take the riders from Cambridge to London, before 18 more stages culminate in the French capital on 27 July.

It is the fourth time the Tour has crossed La Manche (The English Channel).

In 1974 and 1994 it included stages in Britain and in 2007 London hosted the start, known as the Grand Depart.