Why go there?
All eyes were on Yorkshire when the first two stages of the world’s most prestigious cycling race, the Tour de France, took place in the county in 2013. Yorkshire has a rich cycling heritage and has produced legends of the sport, including Brian Robinson, the first British rider to finish the Tour de France (1955) and the first to win a stage (1958).
What to do
The locals don’t call it “God’s own country” for nothing, and the race stages took in the best of Yorkshire’s beautiful landscape and stunning roads – not to mention the climbs. The Tour stages remain signposted even though the riders have moved on, and cyclists looking for a taste of the action can try their hand at as much, or as little, of the gruelling course as they like. Stage one follows a 190km route from Leeds to Harrogate, while stage two takes in a 201km course from York to Sheffield.
Stage two provides the biggest challenge and only serious cyclists need apply. It includes no fewer than nine categorised climbs, including five in the final 60km. The last of those serves as a final sting in the tale, with the climb of Jenkin Road kicking up to a lung-burning maximum gradient of 30 per cent. Make sure you leave something in the tank.
Where to stay and eat
Talbot House near Harrogate is a Grade II listed Georgian coaching inn that has restyled itself as a haven for cyclists. Comfortable rooms, secure bike storage and hearty breakfasts make it a great base for cycling breaks in Yorkshire. And its location at Pateley Bridge puts it right in the heart of the looping stage one route. Double rooms from £70 per night.