A Tour de Force

The Tour de France has reignited Britain’s love of cycling and there has never been a better time to take a bike tour here

(Eric Feferberg/AFP-Getty Images)

Britain has gone cycling mad, the wake of the Tour de France has left the public obsessed with bike riding – from high-level competitions to a quiet country ride, England is enjoying a cycling revival. And it is not just the British public that is getting excited, as viewers from all over the world tuned in to watch the race on TV, the beauty of England’s lush landscape was more than apparent. With plenty of rural roads and mesmerising views around every corner, it’s easy to see why Britain is the perfect choice for a cycling vacation to remember.

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On 5 July the UK played host the biggest cycling event in the world, the Tour de France. This year, for the first time in 7 years, the race began in Britain, and for the very first time ever it started in the city of Leeds. The UK  witnessed cyclists complete three stages, and over 330 miles, before finishing in London on 7 July.

The Tour de France has taken place every summer since 1903, making 2014 its 101st edition. This world famous cycling event is watched by a TV audience of more than 3 billion people all over the globe. It covers around 3,500kms, 2,174 miles, and always ends with cyclist crossing the finishing line on the Champs-Élysées, Paris.


Travelling through the glorious English countryside the British leg of the race has been a huge success. Millions of fans came to watch, and the 198 cyclists were cheered on by an estimated 3.5 million spectators.

The race director Christian Prudhomme seemed extremely pleased with the how the UK has handled their side of the event and the locations involved in the stages. “It was unbelievable, unforgettable, amazing,” Prudhomme said, “The British public have demonstrated their huge passion for cycling over the last three days and we’d love to see the Tour back in Britain,”.


The race began on 5 July in the city of Leeds, in the north of England and finished in the beautiful town of Harrogate. Stage two began in the fascinating medieval city of York, and riders faced a much more challenging ride over the hills of the south and west Yorkshire. The stage finished in the City of Sheffield, after a gruelling 124 miles. The final UK stage saw the cyclists set off from the university city of Cambridge and travel and flatter route, over 96 miles towards the stage finish line in England’s capital London.


The landscape of the north of England is a contrasting mix of deserted rural moorlands and bustling cities. It is a landscape that offers a far more challenging cycling experience than the gently rolling Cotswolds but is no less impressive.

Britain is full of beautiful scenery, with a great deal national parks and protected land, it is a place where the countryside is truly loved.  The tour went through the atmospheric moorland of South Yorkshire. This area, steep and often bleak but also wonderfully wild and remote provided a great deal of inspiration for the Bronte sister’s novels, such as Wuthering Heights. The sisters lived locally in the pretty village of Haworth. And this is typical of the type of history and culture that can be found all over England; from Shakespeare’s Stratford to World Heritage sites – the country is full of charming treasures.


If you watched some of the Tour de France on TV, the impressive British backdrop would have grabbed your attention. And it is easy to experience it for yourself with Active England bike tours. We visit many iconic places, such as Oxford – perhaps even more famous and architectural fascinating than Cambridge, and the enchanting villages of the Cotswolds more than rival the quaint Yorkshire towns. With their cobbled streets and thatched cottages – the rich heritage is plain to see. What’s more, the gently rolling valleys of the region offer plenty of breath-taking panoramas without being too steep.


With events like this and the forthcoming Tour of Britain cycling race, the UK’s love of the sport is greater than ever before. And with cycling’s increasing popularity comes greater safety, with more bike lanes beginning commissioned and car users more aware of the needs of the cyclist. This is all paving the way for a more enjoyable ride for everyone, making it easier to sit back enjoy the country’s glorious scenery and enjoy the ride.

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