In Colin Stout’s recent ‘Talking Politics’ feature he hinted at the political aspect of our hosting of the Tour de France in Yorkshire.
As we already know from last summer’s Olympic experience, if a sporting event is heavily policed, centrally controlled, and carefully choreographed, then England can be shown to fully embrace the idea of being temporarily invaded by the rest of the world, and mix it with the best of them. But how will this concept transfer to northern towns and cities where the inhabitants are, on the whole, far less cosmopolitan in outlook? Will the mandarins of Westminster be able to keep themselves under control until the race hits London? or is David Cameron already planning a trip up north to test the waters? I can already picture the sight of Boris Johnson clad in white Lycra parachuting in from a helicopter above Wadsworth Moor. It seems some of the continental pro-cyclists are not exactly relishing a trip through the Yorkshire countryside, as a recent interview with Swiss cyclist Fabian Cancellara (nicknamed ‘Spartacus’) revealed. After explaining how the Olympic road race was a stressful event because of the huge crowds that ‘made you feel like you were going through a tunnel’ the reporter broke the bad news: ‘Fabian, it’s been confirmed that the 2014 Tour will return to Britain - to Yorkshire.’ ‘Yorkshire?’ asked Cancellara, ‘where is that?’ ‘The North of England’ replied the reporter. To which came the reply, ‘North? Holy Crap!’ Which just goes to show - some of us are considered to be less European than others, both by other Europeans, and even within the boundaries of our own country.