Gallery - Le Tour de France: Turnout for Essex leg is better than expected in some French villages
13:11 07 July 2014
The caravan has arived in Finchingfield heralding the imminent arrival of the Tour de France cyclists.
The village is packed with spectators and reporter Will Lodge, who is at the scene, said many people have taken the day off to see the spectacle.
He said schools have also closed to allow children to join the celebration.
Posting on Twitter, he said: “Great Bardfield resident Ian Fox says turnout here in Finchingfield is bigger than some French villages simply because they are used to it.”
A range of stalls are serving up refreshment to spectators - with picnic hampers available from one pub and a hog roast on offer elsewhere.
The village also has a large 18m TV screen which was transported straight from the British Grand Prix yesterday.
The route was open to amateur cyclists earlier and Will said: “Some cyclists are still riding the route with each one getting a huge cheer as they come through the village.
“Just seen some of the 25 riders from Boxford Bike Club who say the buzz is incredible right along the route.”
Hundre ds of thousands of spectators are lining the roads of East Anglia today to catch a glimpse of stage three of the world’s biggest cycle race - which leaves Cambridge at 12.15pm, travels through Essex and onto London.
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The opening stages in Yorkshire over the weekend saw an estimated 2.5m spectators line the route - described as one of the best turnouts in the event’s history.
Special events are taking place in towns and villages right along the Essex leg today.
Street performers will herald the Tour’s arrival in Wethersfield with a performance at the playing field.
A global stage will take place after the race at the Wethersfield Playing fields with performances by Braintree-based arts organisation Chakardar and Efua Sey Cultural academy based in Harlow with African dance and Music. Also performing will be Namvula’s, fusing the energy and rhythms of folk and urban traditions from her Zambian homeland with London’s eclectic music scene.
A three-day music festival at the Old Rayne Station in Rayne has been coincided to conclude with the Tour’s visit and the Braintree BMX club will also be at the village playing field doing demonstrations.
Large screens will be showing the whole of Stage Three throughout the day in Felsted and also in Chelmsford where there will be a range of activities and live music.
In Howe Street, L’etape Village d’Essex (the Essex Stage Village) is being held at River Farm, Main Road. It includes exhibitions by cycling companies and manufacturers, demonstrations, food and drink.
Figures in Essex are hoping the Tour will bring a boost to the county’s businesses and residents.
Ann Naylor, Essex county councillor for public health and well-being, said: “This is a huge event and we are ready for the world to come.
“Businesses are keen on it. Some were perhaps not at first but after reflection they realised it will attract people into their town, and people will hear about it on TV and it will make a big difference in raising the profile of their area.”
Reassurance has been given that the county’s roads are in a fit state to host the spectacle, which will be watched by an estimated worldwide audience of two billion people.
Liz Burr, head of network and safety at Essex Highways, said: “The roads were inspected back in October and the organisers were very impressed. Since then it has been twice inspected in addition to its normal inspections.
“We are aiming for a reasonable standard. We are not doing work especially but re-programming work to get it done before the race.
“They are not expecting perfection, it is a tour, not a velodrome race.”
Gary Sullivan, chairman of Active Essex, said: “Closing 180km of roads will be interesting, but we have done something similar with the Olympic torch relay. We have the confidence of the cycling world in putting on events, and they didn’t hesitate in putting Essex onto the route. It is going to be fantastic.
“We expect people to come from France, Holland, Belgium and elsewhere as well... It is a colourful spectacle with all the team jerseys, and we are encouraging everyone to get out there and get involved, including decorating their houses or shop fronts if they are along the route itself.”
Today’s race will finish on The Mall, after a closing section which will pass many of London famous landmarks and a last few kilometres along the River Thames before passing the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.
The finish line is where the bike races ended in the London 2012 Olympics.
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