Cycling has exploded in popularity in the UK over the last decade, with gold medals a plenty in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, followed by the first ever British winner of the Tour, Bradley Wiggins in 2012. Then of course all of those medals in London 2012, before Chris Froome, another Brit, took the yellow jersey last year, and he’ll be defending his title this time round.
On Monday July 7, the world’s most famous cycling race, the Tour de France, comes through London. It’s the first time since 2007 that Le Tour has graced the streets of the capital, and there are sure to be many thousands of people turning out to catch a glimpse of Chris Froome, Mar Cavendish, Alberto Contador and of course the world famous yellow jersey.
So with seemingly everyone in London hitting the streets to catch a glimpse of the race, finding a good spot to view the cyclists is key, and here we look at a few.
Where To Watch the 2014 Tour de France in London
Fan parks have become a staple of any city whose inhabitants are crazy about sport. Their popularity peaked in the 2010 World Cup, with fan parks in every city from Sydney to Rio. There will be two fan parks set up in London for the 2014 Tour de France, these are located in Green Park and Trafalgar Square, and will be open from Saturday 5 until Monday 7 July, so you can catch all of the action from the UK stages of the event. There will be another fan park open in Canary Wharf, however this will just be for the closing stages of the Tour, from 24 – 27 July, and not for the UK sections.
Buckingham Palace and The Mall
You’ll have to get here early for this one, and be ready for huge crowds! Stage three of the Tour de France ends on The Mall, much like the road race of the 2012 Olympics. The atmosphere will be second to none as people line the famous street to watch the sprint finish, and hopefully see a British cyclist claim the stage. Expect people to be camping out a night, or even two nights, before the race for this one, so don’t turn up an hour before expecting a fantastic view. However, the Green Park Fan Park is just a few hundred yards away, so if you get there and decide it’s not for you then you do have other options.
The stage that finishes in London actually starts all the way away in Cambridge, and will enter London via Epping Forrest, in the North East of the city. The roads out near Epping will be much quieter and if you want to have an up close and personal view as the cyclist whizz past then this could be the best bet. Epping is easy enough to get to as well, accessible via the Central line on The Underground. This is also where you’ll get to see one of the sprints, so there could be some great action to see.
The Tower of London
This is another one that will be busy, but it will also be incredible. There are official viewing areas at The Tower of London and seeing the race pass by from this incredible setting will be something you’ll never forget. Don’t expect the Tower to get as busy early on as The Mall, but do expect huge crowds and a fantastic atmosphere, and you’re still best off arriving early.
One of the best places in London to watch the race will undoubtedly be Westminster Bridge. You’ll have fantastic views of the race as the competitors come past Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament. Like any good viewing point in the city, expect people to be there in their thousands. If you get there early though, you could just end up with the best views in town.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
While this is not an official Fan Park, the Olympic Park is home to one of the spectator hubs, so there will be great facilities and it is guaranteed to be a great place to soak up some of the atmosphere while catching the race.
These are just a few suggestions, there will be plenty of other viewing spots along the route, and the official Tour de France website has many great suggestions as well as showing the exact route the race will take as it travels from Cambridge to London. Our advice is always to turn up early if you want a good view, or to go to one of the Fan Parks if you prefer to watch the entire stage on the big screens and have the facilities that you’d like at a major sporting event. Remember that while there are road closures, most of London will be operating as normal on a busy Monday, so do bear in mind that there will be the usual traffic, rush hours and tourists on the streets. There is some information on how travel will be affected on the TFL website, which is worth looking at. Most of all though, make sure to enjoy the race and enjoy London!