MORE than a million spectators are expected to line the roads of two of East Lancashire’s near neighbours for this weekend’s epic Tour de France experience.
And it is estimated the cycling fiesta will generate £100million for Yorkshire, with Skipton, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden sharing in the spoils as ‘host’ venues.
Giant TV screens are being put up in all three towns as part of spectator hubs and cycle clubs around East Lancashire are making their own plans to join the festivities.
Burnley and Pendle CTC and Rossendale Road Club members are planning to travel up to Cragg Vale, near Todmorden, one of the most punishing climbs on the circuit, on Sunday.
Club secretary Ritchie Watts, of the Rossendale club, said: “We will be doing both days – we are meeting up in Kay Street in Rawtenstall on Saturday to go up to the Grassington area, then on the Sunday we will be meeting to ride up to Cragg Vale.”
Even before the likes of Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Mark Cavendish speed by, crowds will throng the streets for the traditional ‘caravan’, a cavalcade of vehicles dishing out freebies and promotional materials to bystanders.
The caravan is expected in Skipton around 10.50am on Saturday and will be in the Calderdale area, for Todmorden and Hebden Bridge spectators, from 11.45am on Sunday.
A Calderdale Council spokesman said: “We’re expecting 160,000 spectators in Calderdale and a real boost to local businesses.
“The race day alone is estimated to bring up to £3million into the borough, and after that, projections suggest that visitor numbers are likely to increase by between 15 and 30 per cent.”
Council bosses in North Yorkshire are expecting 900,000 or more for the 100 miles of the race running through their patch, on Saturday’s Leeds to York leg, with a carnival featuring musicians and markets in Skipton on both days.
A Visit Lancashire spokesman said the arrival of the tour had generated good business for hotels and campsites, especially in the Ribble Valley and Pendle.
“We found many of the accommodation providers close to the border have been very successful and our small hotel of the year, Stirk House, has been booked up,” she added.