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Tour de France swings into action

The Tour de France organisers arrived in the capital today ahead of the Grand Départ, which takes place in the city this weekend for the first time in the 104 year history of the event.

A celebration of the Tour de France and cycling in London began with the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, officially opening the Tour de France Permanence and Press Centre at the ExCeL Centre in London’s Docklands. The Permanence is the base for the race during its visit to London and will house around 2000 media personnel.

More than two million people are expected to come and watch the free to view race during the weekend, with one million spectators in London alone. It is estimated that this will bring almost £115 million to the London and South East economy. Furthermore, with the event broadcast in almost 200 countries London will be promoted across the world.

There are a number of activities being organised to accompany the Tour including the People’s Village – an event to celebrate and promote cycling in Hyde Park – and 18 giant screens in the capital so everyone can get a good view of the racing. Plus there will be an additional 11,000 cycle parking spaces for spectators.

The Grand Départ takes place during three days:

Friday 6 July – Tour de France Opening Ceremony – from 18.00 Trafalgar Square. A spectacular presentation of the riders followed by live music.

Saturday 7 July – Tour de France Prologue – a 7.9km individual sprint around central London, starting on Whitehall and taking in some of London’s most famous landmarks including Whitehall, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park and finishing on the Mall. Timings: 13.00 Tour de France Publicity Caravan sets off ; 14.00 Riders warm up; 15.00 Race Start; 18.20 Race Ends.

Sunday 8 July Tour de France Stage One – A 203 km stage starting on the Mall in central London, passing close to a variety of historic and contemporary sites including Big Ben, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Gherkin and crossing Tower Bridge close to City Hall. The race will then travel through Bermondsey, Deptford, Greenwich and Erith before heading out into Kent where it will pass through Dartford, Gravesend, Medway, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone and Ashford before the stage finish in Canterbury. Caravan leaves the Mall at 8.40; Riders leave the Mall at 10.25.

In addition, there will be a number of events taking place across London:

The People’s Village Hyde Park – a free entry event celebrating and promoting cycling, taking place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and featuring French and British food and drink, information about how to get into cycling, entertainment and giant screens to watch the action.

The Hyde Park Cycling Festival – this is a free event on Sunday 8 July with cycling activities on a 3.5km section of the Tour de France Prologue course within Hyde Park. The programme includes over 300 elite, international athletes competing in a wide variety of races, from the London Youth Games finalists, to national level youth and women races, showcasing the best British talent.
Festivals and Events – On Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 July there will be a huge range of free festivals and events taking place in central London and along the Stage One route in London and Kent. For more details visit www.tourdefrancelondon.com or call 020 7222 1234.

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