'We need to treat the Tour de France as seriously as the French do when it comes through our town', says Saffron Walden mayor
PUBLISHED: 09:34 15 November 2013
The wheels have been set in motion to get the whole town "steamed up" about the Tour de France when it passes through the district next year.
Saffron Walden mayor Keith Eden said the town would do well to treat the historic sportif as seriously as the French do. And his proposals to form a working group – charged with helping make the Tour’s arrival in Uttlesford next July a “spectacular” one – was given unanimous backing by his fellow councillors.
Speaking at a full council meeting last night (Thursday, November 14), Cllr Eden told members: “If we were a French village we’d be saying this is the biggest event of our lifetime. They take it very seriously and do some incredible things.
“I’m not suggesting we try to emulate the French, but we’ve got to set such a high standard that, of all the places the cyclists pass, the place they remember most is Saffron Walden.”
Cllr Eden proposed that his deputy, Sandra Eden, who will be mayoress when the race comes through, take on the role as chairman of the working group. She will work alongside councillors Mike Hibbs, Richard Harrington, Doug Perry and Nick Osborne who were co-opted on to the group, although others could be involved “if the need arises”.
The group’s exact mission statement has not yet been set, but the mayor was in no doubt as to its purpose.
“Clearly we need to make this a rousing success and get the whole town steamed up about the event – we need to make it spectacular,” said Cllr Eden.
“I’m sure there will be lots of opportunities to raise money for charities and good causes along the way, and it is during the Saffron Walden Carnival as well, so it could not be better.”
The third stage of the 101st Tour, from Cambridge, will take in the Chesterfords, Littlebury, Saffron Walden, Radwinter, The Sampfords and Felsted as it passes through Uttlesford on Monday, July 7, on its way towards London.
The Reporter understands the peloton will arrive in Saffron Walden via Windmill Hill, before turning left on to George Street, travelling up Hill Street and then on towards Radwinter and Finchingfield.
As in the Olympic road race, the stage is to finish on The Mall, in front of Buckingham Palace.
The Tour will begin in Leeds with the Grand Depart on Saturday, July 5. Riders will head north west into the Yorkshire countryside, taking in the Yorkshire Dales before finishing the opening stage in Harrogate.
York hosts the start of stage two, which is to pass through Keighley and Huddersfield on the way to Sheffield, before the race moves to Cambridge for the final leg in Britain.
The 23-day Tour then heads to France ahead of its usual climax on the Champs Elysees in Paris.