ibikelondon's top tips on where to see the Tour de France in London


I'm sure it won't have escaped your attention that the 3rd stage of the 101st Tour de France will sweep from Cambridge through London on Monday.  You've booked your day's holiday - or concocted a suitably tall tale of sickness - so where is best to catch the race?

There will be official Tour de France Fan Parks in Green Park and Trafalgar Square with free entry, big screens relaying the action, live music, food stalls and film screenings open all weekend, and an additional big screen in London's Olympic Park in Stratford which the peloton will race past.

But if you want to get really up close and personal with the action, where should you go?

You've got all weekend to ride the route of the Tour yourself if you wish, and the Telegraph's Nicholas Crane points out how surprisingly rural much of the ride is from Cambridge to Epping Forest.

In London you won't be allowed to ride any of the route on Monday after most streets close at 10AM and before the arrival of the publicity Caravanne and the peloton according to the special Transport for London Tour website, but you may have more success riding on the roads closed from Epping and out in to the Essex fringes.  If you're using a train to get out of town, be sure it will accept your bike on the day, or consider taking it out over the weekend and locking it somewhere safe.

Cambridge

The city of gowns and bicycles hosts the start of the stage, so could be an option for a family day out, especially if you want a glimpse of riders preparing.  The city is asking people to try and arrive by bicycle or public transport, so do book your train ticket in advance if you can.  There will be a French market from 8:30AM and the city will be bedecked in bunting.  Riders depart around noon.  Check out the Cambridge City Council website for details.

North Weald Airfield

Monday's stage is paper flat compared to the rolling ride through the Dales the peloton will encounter on Saturday and Sunday, but that's not to say there aren't occasional inclines to slow the race down.  The crest of the second hill on the day is by North Weald Airfield, where the stage passes below the M11.  It's about 45 minutes walk from Epping station (the end of the Central Line) or you can take a vintage bus from Epping to North Weald, and then a heritage train service to Ongar on the Epping Ongar Railway and back for a morning excursion if you wish.  The peloton will pass around 2.30PM.



London

On the Mall itself crowds will be many people thick and the riders will pass in a flash, put the atmosphere will be red hot!  Standing room will be hotly contested for a great view from Duke of York steps.  There's more room on the Embankment, and river panoramas to boot, and the pedestrian tracks on Hungerford Bridge will offer a fantastic vantage point to those who get there early enough to claim it.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park offers more space, phenomenal public transport connections for an easy escape afterwards plus a big screen to watch the race reach the Mall once it has passed.  There's also lots of secure bicycle parking within the park itself so you can safely leave your bike tied up.

There's a ninety degree turn just outside the park by Marshall Road just before the A12, and another in the south of the park where it joins Stratford High Street and a hair pin bend further up in to West Ham Lane.  The turns offer the opportunity to see some tight bicycle racing, perhaps even a crash, and the tighter the turn the slower the peloton will pass meaning you'll see more than just a flash of lycra.  Choose your spot wisely!

Rain, rain, go away...

This being Britain, and summer, rain is of course a possibility for the day.  If standing around on windswept road corners in a downpour waiting for a few seconds' glimpse of a bike race isn't your thing, then you can enjoy big screen coverage from the warmth of Look Mum No Hands! on Old Street throughout the Tour.

Getting about town by bike on race day

Maybe you couldn't give a monkeys about the Tour de France, but still need to get to work on Monday by bike...  Be aware that road closures will be implemented from around 6AM, with most roads re-opening about an hour after the peloton has passed, but the Mall and surrounding environs remaining closed until late in the evening.  Traffic is likely to be heavy throughout the day so allow extra time to complete your journey.  

Tower, Southwark and Westminster bridges will remain closed throughout the day - but not to pedestrians if you're prepared to get off and push! Check for predicted disruption here.

For a run down of the Caravanne and peloton passing times, plus the nearest train stations to key spectator points, see here.

For a map of the Stage 3 route see here

Download the Green Park Fan Hub entertainment schedule here.  They are open all weekend and the free open air screening of a movie about the Rwandan cycling team bidding to reach the London Olympics (Sunday evening) looks particularly good.

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