WATCH: Rapturous crowds gather at Blackley hill to welcome Tour de France

Mini-mountain becomes hot spot for cycling fans

Tour De France 2014 at Blackley.

 

It might not be Holme Moss but cycling fans got their first taste of the King of the Mountains as the Tour de France hit the edge of Huddersfield.

The normally peaceful rural road at Blackley, close to the M62, became one big party as thousands flocked to see the world’s best cyclists tackle the vicious incline out of Elland up to Ainley Top.

Fans got in place from first light in a bid to get the best view of riders coming up the twisting route.

At the foot of the steep hill, families lined the streets to eat their picnics and enjoy the colourful caravan parade.

Messages of support drawn in chalk on the road included “Va va Froome” and “Wot No Cav”, following the Brit’s disappointing first stage crash and subsequent exit from the race.

Many fans said they had switched their support from the ‘Manx Missile’ to reigning champion Chris Froome.

Brian Castle from Huddersfield said they’d got up early to try and get a top spot near the final switchback turn of the hill.

Le Tour Yorkshire: Caravane passes through Huddersfield and Calderdale giving out loads of freebies 

He said: “We know this place but we couldn’t get near the last bend, but we got the second best near the summit and the King of the Mountains points place.

“It’s absolutely fantastic.

“We were supporting Cav but it’ll be Team Sky now.”

Lisa Kelly and her husband travelled bright and early from Cleckheaton to get one of the best spots at the top of Blackley Road.

“We picked this spot on the hill so hopefully they’ll go past a bit slower,” she said.

“We got here at 8am and we’re definitely not giving it up,” she added.

Veteran cyclist, Derek Fisher, from Crosland Moor said he was taking a second chance to check out the race having watched the launch in Leeds yesterday.

Derek, 79, a member of Huddersfield CTC, and friend of Martyn Bolt and Brian Robinson said he was thrilled to see the tour coming through his home town.

“I’ve been a cyclist all my life so it’s fantastic to get this on my doorstep,” he said.

“I’ve been here since 10 o’clock this morning to see the cavalcade.

“I was supporting Cav but I’ll have to move to Froome.

 

“It’s a real shame he fell but it was his own fault!”

He added: “Cycling has become so popular it’s unbelievable.

“I can’t believe the amount of bikes on the roads.

“I didn’t expect so many to be here at Blackley.”

Chris Whale had come from Pontefract to the Calderdale/Kirklees border to see what all the fuss was about.

“I watched it on TV yesterday but I thought I’d come to see it for real today,” he said.

“I’m not a cycling fan normally but I’m really interested in seeing the race.

“I’m pleased to see the race in Yorkshire, I didn’t expect it to be so well set out.”

With thousands of people waiting for more than six hours by the roadside, cheers went up for all the novelty vehicles in the cavalcade as free sweets and packs of Yorkshire Tea were thrown out along the route.

Excitement built as a swarm of seven French TV helicopters swooped in low over the hill as the riders neared the tricky ascent.

And then in the blink of an eye it was all over as most of the peloton sped up the hill to Ainley Top and down into Huddersfield town centre.

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