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The Tour de France: Ready, steady…partez!

By Patricia Connell

The Tour de France: Ready, steady…partez!  


Last weekend was by far London’s busiest weekend of the year with the “Grand Depart” of the Tour de France which for the first the time ever started from  the British capital.
On this occasion, Londoners enjoyed an especially hot and sunny day: just what the Tour de France needed to get off with a bang. For this exceptional event, most of the main attractions took place in Hyde Park. It began on Saturday with “Let’s Ride to Watch the Prologue” including guided rides, cycling competitions and activities for novice and experienced cyclists. The Tour de France was also the best occasion for Transports for London to give a boost to its London’s cycling campaign. “You’re better off by bike” was on the lips of all his organisers who invited people to stop taking the bus and get on their bikes instead.

Last weekend, Hyde Park was packed with bikes which had become the main attraction for the event. The festivities were in full swing on Sunday with the “Hyde Park Cycling Festival” including many cycling competitions and games on a 3.5km section originally used for the Prologue.

Adding to the sporting activities, thousands of Londoners flocked to the People's Village where nearly 250,000 spectators were expected to come and watch the Tour de France Prologue going around the Serpentine Lake.

All through the weekend, the Franco-British market which had been set up in Hyde Park by French Fairs Ltd was overwhelmed with thousands of amateurs of food and drink as well as handcrafts visiting the area. The market square, specially re-created for the event, offered a relaxed atmosphere for all those wanting to sit back, with a bottle of wine, some cheese, bread and perhaps also some saucisson while watching the Tour de France on the giant screen.

The market was in full bloom for three days and closed only at 6pm on Sunday night, just in time to see the Tour de France caravan pack up and leave for France.

The start of the Tour de France could not have expected a greater success.
The key for everyone, was that the crowd although somewhat bigger than expected, was good humoured and extremelly well behaved.

Don't forget : “You’re better off by bike”!!!
And good luck to all the competitors.


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