I find it odd that the names have been frenchified. There was a climb called Cote de Wigtwizzle. When I first saw it I thought someone was trying to make an obscure joke about Yorkshire that I didn’t understand. But no, it’s a real place near Sheffield, not far from Oughtibridge, and a place that always gets a laugh in our house, or at least, when I’m in the household, the amazing PENIStone. It’s not far from where my Dad lived for a bit, with his Northern bride. She is acutely aware that the town of penistone gets a giggle and sent a fridge magnet in the post recently in recognition of our southern humour. Of course, it’s not PENIS-TONE, it’s penni-stun.
The main paradox in all of this is that a recent race in France, once called the Giro Del Trentino, is now named ‘Tour of the Alps’. It seems like there is some linguistic disonnance going on here amongst the UCI and ASO people. Either way, it can’t have gone down that well with the legions of countrified brexiteers to see their anglo-saxon heritage ridden roughshod over the cobbles of prepositional reversal.
Back to the main point. The Tour De Yorkshire was a cracking race. The first two stages were mildly entertaining; a blat around various bits of an enormous county. The third stage, in contrast, was entirely revolting for the rider, and thus utterly amazing for the viewer. The highlight was Shibden Wall; a total rotter, a stinky, horrible, bully of a climb with cobbles the size of giant cobbles, lined with a baying lynch mob come to bury the foolhardy participants. My mum was at the top, armed with a cowbell made for some sort of prehistoric giant cow, such was the size of the device. She lowly did swing it like an elderly Swiss cowherdess, calling in the purple heifers so that they might be made into Milka bars.
It was cracking, riders reduced to zigzagging like drunken students trying to look sober, dribbling over the line in ones and twos. All crowned with a superlative display of team riding. With any luck the blue-blooded Gary Verity has worked out his worlds’ course already, and this is it. 12 laps of Shibden Mur for the finishing circuit.