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See a rider's-eye view of the Tour

Student Sinead Burke knows exactly what the greatest cyclists in the world will face in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales this weekend.

The 20-year-old road race rider has tackled the Buttertubs Pass for the first time and filmed her climb and 45mph descent on a handlebar-mounted camera.

The Buttertubs route will confront the peloton about halfway round Stage One of the Tour de France, which kicks off in Leeds on Saturday.

This opening stage is classified as flat by the professionals - ideal for the sprinting talents of Mark Cavendish, who is hoping to secure the yellow jersey at the end of day one, in his mother's home town of Harrogate.

But, for ordinary mortals, there is nothing flat about Buttertubs as the narrow road climbs steeply out of Hawes, in Wensleydale, and crosses the open moors before dropping dramatically into Swaledale and the picture-postcard village of Muker.

Miss Burke said she could understand comments from Giant-Shimano's German star Marcel Kittel who thought the narrow roads lined by dry-stone walls would be challenging for the Tour riders.

She said some of the tight corners were tough.

"There was one where I came round and I was leaning all the way over so my knee was almost on the ground coming round the corner," she said.

"There were walls on each side. It's quite sharp getting round some of those if you're not used to it."

Miss Burke, from Horsforth, Leeds, is studying sports science at Leeds Trinity University and races for the PH-MAS Cycling women's road team, based in nearby Otley.

"I think I got to about 45mph but I wasn't letting myself roll out completely, I was slowing myself down every so often because I don't know it so well.

"I think they're going to have to be quite careful if they haven't had a practice run."

She went on: "I think they have steeper hills and longer hills in France in the mountains. I don't think that will trouble them too much. It's a big climb for round here but not, maybe, in their world."

Miss Burke said the cycling community of West Yorkshire cannot wait for the event to start.

"It's a different level of cycling to where I am," she said.

"It's so exciting to see them all coming past and it's the noise - they go so fast, it's that whooshing noise. It's all very exciting."

As the riders make their final preparations, a massive logistical operation has swung into place ahead of the Grand Depart.

Estimates are that up to three million people could line the route to watch Cavendish, Chris Froome and their fellow riders speed through nearly 245 miles (395km) of Yorkshire's city streets and moorland lanes.

Two hundred lorry-loads of kit will arrive in the county this week as the organisers co-ordinate three police forces, 10,000 volunteer Tourmakers, 62 miles (100km) of barriers, 30,000 traffic cones and 24 specially-designated spectator hubs.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will be at the ceremonial start of the race at Harewood House on Saturday and also at the finish line in Harrogate to present the awards.

The "flat" Stage One will be followed on Sunday by a stage from York to Sheffield which has been described as one of the most challenging ever in the Grand Depart of the Tour.

Massive crowds are expected again as the riders pass the famous landmarks of York and brave the cobbled High Street in Haworth before tackling some serious climbs in the south Pennines.

These climbs include well-known routes such as Holme Moss and Cragg Vale as well as some not so famous challenges, especially Jenkin Road - a suburban street close to Sheffield's Meadowhall Shopping Centre, which has been described as the steepest stretch on the whole Tour.

The other side of the Pennines has also tapped into the Tour de France excitement, with Rochdale making the most of the fact that a 0.6 mile (1km) section of Stage Two passes through the borough.

Stage Three, on Monday July 7, moves south to Cambridge from where the riders will travel to central London.

:: Watch the videocam footage of Buttertubs pass at


From Belfast Telegraph