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Évry / Paris Champs-Élysées

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More than a teams' presentation, a real opening ceremony

news03.07.2014Pre-race

© A.S.O

It was party time in Leeds for a wonderful opening ceremony two days ahead of stage 1!

Mark Cavendish exited the Leeds Arena putting on a good word for the spectacle he's been part of. “I was used to do a teams' presentation at the Tour de France but this time it was a real opening ceremony!”, commented the Olympian who has competed in several Games previously. The two hours long show, billed as the biggest opening ceremony in the Tour history, fulfilled its promise with the riders looking bewitched by the environment. After being cheered by thousands of fans during a parade in the streets of Leeds, they were welcomed in the arena by almost 12.000 people who had booked their tickets way in advance. Presenters Jill Douglas and “the voice of Radio-Tour” Sébastien Piquet introduced the twenty-two teams, Vincenzo Nibali's new Italian champion jersey, Peter Sagan's fancy glasses… Musical interludes were performed by Alistair Griffin and Kimberley Walsh.
Nicolas Roche never had so many people wishing him a happy birthday. The crowd also discovered an injured Michael Matthews. “I've seen better days”, the Australian lamented in the backstage before telling everyone: “With the help of doctors and physiotherapists, I do everything possible to be on the start line on Saturday.” It's not a sure thing yet as he's got six stitches in the palm of his left hand after crashing during a training ride. His young British team-mate Simon Yates is another rookie with Orica-GreenEdge. He expressed the same kind of feelings as Geraint Thomas who discovered the Tour as the youngest rider in the race back in 2007 in London. “It's incredible”, he said. “Here I am, starting the biggest bike race in the world… in my country!”
The last man on stage was naturally the defending champion. “It's massive!”, reacted Chris Froome. “I can't say enough. It's been unreal since I got here for the Grand Départ. I'll certainly give it all and I can guarantee the eight guys with me will do the same for the next three weeks and I hope to be on stage with the yellow jersey in Paris again.”

The news in pictures

photo03/07/2014 

© A.S.O

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