As many of you might have seen myself and a few friends took the opportunity to ride the 2016 Tour De Yorkshire route over Christmas which gave us a bit of an insight into where we might want to watch the race and where we thought things might get exiting. So rather than keep that to ourselves I thought I would share some of the places I think it would be ace to watch the TdY over the weekend. Incase you missed all of the press coverage you'll already know the race covers three stages in three days across Yorkshire with a dedicated ladies race across the full Stage Two from Otley to Doncaster with a massive £10,000 prize fund. So, where would I watch?
Stage One - Beverley to Settle
The first stage is certainly one of two halves - a flat and fast start across the Yorkshire wolds towards Knaresborough before a lumpy second half from Ripley to Settle. Whilst we're not very pro we did find that getting from the start to half way point didn't take too much time which means it will take the pro's even less; a flat and fast start will most likely be on the cards. Therefore on Stage One we'll be looking to get a spot on the one big climb of the day "Cote De Greenhow Hill". This is a 2.5 mile climb with a current KOM of 11:02 held by my friend Andy. The bottom of the climb is still and tree lined but quite straight so there's a good opportunity to watch the riders attack up the first half of the climb where it's at it's steepest. Alternatively you can head all the way to the top where you'll be able to see the riders swoop over the second half of the climb and along the moors towards Settle; this is a spot for the longest viewing.
If you're heading up to Yorkshire and don't fancy being road-side so you can catch more of the action then I thoroughly recommend heading to Harrogate's Prologue Performance Cycling Cafe; this place does some of the best cake I've ever found in a cafe and has a massive TV screen where they will more than likely be showing the whole race. It's the perfect blend of cycling, coffee and cake. If you fancy the cafe and the roadside action then watch the climb through Bedlam before riding to the cafe to catch the stage win.
Stage Two - Otley to Doncaster
This is by far the most action packed day of the Tour De Yorkshire with both a ladies race headed by Lizzie Armitstead and the mens race on the same 136km route. If you're a pro-spotter then you'll definitely want to head to the market town of Otley to sneak some signatures and souvenirs before the race kicks off. Once it does you'll definitely want to be on Cote De East Rigton where the road narrows out up a steep bank meaning the riders will string out. If you do head here though be careful not to block the riders way as they start fly by. This is the spot where I imagine most of the Leeds cycling clubs will be hanging out and cheering the riders through.
Unfortunately we didn't find any cafes on the second day but what we did find was a stunning village called Hooton Pagnell which is quite possibly the postcard picture for Yorkshire. We'd recommend being here just for the village alone but there are a few twists and turns to slow the riders down long enough for a good glance. Equally, the Cote De Conisborough Castle has the potential to be an awesome stand point as the narrow climb loops around the castle and flings the riders down the other other side giving you a view twice.
Day Three - Middlesborough to Scarborough
Quite possibly the hardest stage the organisers could have chosen to end the Tour on with 198km and a massive 2,560m of climbing! This means that the race could quite possibly be blown right open on the final day, after what will have been a fairly flat two days previously, helping to keep the time gaps down in the standings. You're spoilt for choice on this stage with which epic hill you should watch on but it came down to two for me.
The first is Cote De Blakey Ridge which is over seven miles long. It's certainly not a steep or tough climb by any account but if the wind is blowing and it's raining I guarantee the drag to the top will cause some problems for the riders. There is a pub quite far up called the Lion Inn which has a large car park and some of the best pub food in the North Yorkshire Moors. I would park here, have a steak pie and then watch the riders climb up the whole road from bottom to top. You can quite literally see for miles! It's cold up there though even on a good day so pack a jacket.
The second climb has to be the Cote De Grosmont, which if we rode the right way up it hits an painful 33% in sections and nearly brought us to a halt. The picturesque village of Grosmont is a great point to base yourself before quite literally climbing your way out the village to a good vantage point.
The cafe of the day here has to be Yorks Tea Room in Thirsk; this little cafe loves everything about cycling and has plenty of memorabilia on the walls to prove it. The owner is exceptionally friendly and the last few times I've been really looked after well, including helping get my kit dry on the wettest hundred miles of my life. It's not far into the overall stage but it does mean you can catch a glimpse of the peloton whilst sipping your coffee before finding the TV coverage to see all the action.
Where are you watching?
It's going to be a pretty exciting race over the three days with plenty of places to watch. Do you have anywhere in mind that I've missed off my list? Share them with us so we can all find the best place to watch.
Also don't forget to cheer on the Yorkshire riders such as Lizzie Armitstead, Tom Moses, Russ Downing and Josh Edmondson. Of course the teams haven't announced their rosters yet but we're hoping to see the riders there....