More than two and a half million spectators lined the route over the four days of this year’s Tour de Yorkshire from May 3rd to May 6th and churches throughout the region put out the bunting and opened their doors in welcome. Many, too, offered hospitality with food and drink on offer throughout the unusual warmth of the early May Bank Holiday.
This year’s Tour de Yorkshire, longer and harder than any previously, cross-crossed the diocese on three of its four day-long stages , visiting all five Episcopal Areas at least once.
On Day Two (Friday 4 May) churches in Barnsley and Silkstone were pictured close to the start. At St Mary the Virgin Barnsley the bunting was out and the refreshments were served. Meanwhile along the road, the Wortely Bellringers rang a peal of bells as the men’s race rode past.
Church buildings where extensively featured in the global TV coverage, especially along the route through Pontefract and on through Castleford , Swillington and Garforth. The route continued north to Barwick in Elmet and on through Hareweood, Pool , Otley and Ilkley.
At Ilkley the Fairtrade group teamed up with All Saints’, (a Fairtrade church), to display the Bradford Fairtrade Zone banner: ‘End the cycle of poverty: choose Fairtrade’, for several weeks in the run up to 4th May and Stage 2 of the Tour. All Saints’ Church in the centre of Ilkley, was right on the race route, and the banner was on the wall facing the route.
Day Three, Saturday May 5, the riders rolled out of Richmond’s cobbled market place (pictured) and headed through Catterick , across Wensleydale and then Leyburn. Pictured left preparations with the Church about the Dale trailer, a tea tent and “fab cakes” by St Gregory Crakehall which the riders went through before heading towards Bedale. At St. Gregory's church, Bedale they joined in the Tour de Yorkshire fun with colourful bikes and angels on the church roof!
The final Day, Sunday May 6, started in Halifax with Halifax Minster providing the background. (Read Canon Hilary Barber of Halifax Minster on the preparations for the tour by churches).
The race headed up the cobbled Main Street in Haworth before crossing from Brontë Country into Craven. Then on to Skipton. Here the iconic Holy Trinity Church (pictured right) towered over the High Street as the riders headed north. But Christ Church Skipton, too, welcomed visitors and was open for refreshments after the morning service as the Tour de Yorkshire went by around 1pm.
The route was lined trough the Yorkshire Dales. Left, Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley is pictured watching in Burnsall with an appropriately dressed ’churchwarden’.
From there the route continued through the Dales to Middleham before turning south and through Masham . Masham Youth Group's fund-raising lemonade stall was a huge hit, along with the Leeds Carnival dancers in the Market Square. St Mary's in Masham prepared for the tour for several weeks, and had “quite a few extra visitors” in the weekends leading up to it as fans riode the route in advance.
The route headed on through Pateley Bridge, where St Cuthbert’s Church was prominently featured in TV coverage from the circling helicopters. From there the race passed through Otley a second time , up Otley Chevin. Through Adel and then towards Leeds, the race headed towards Kirkstall and Armley before a rip-roaring conclusion on The Headrow – on exactly the same spot as where the Tour de France started in 2014.