Kittel wins Tour de France first stage

German Marcel Kittel won the opening stage of the Tour de France in the UK on Saturday as home favourite Mark Cavendish crashed in the final sprint and crowds were warned about being too enthusiastic.

Kittel wins Tour de France first stage
Photo: AFP

Giant-Shimano's Kittel will wear the race leader's yellow jersey on Sunday's second stage after triumphing in the run from Leeds to Harrogate.

Prince William, his wife Catherine and Prince Harry took part in a royal opening ceremony in Leeds before the 2014 Tour began.

The Duchess of Cambridge was given the honour of cutting the official start ribbon at Harewood House just outside Leeds before reigning champion Chris Froome and the rest of the peloton set off on the 190.5km opening stage around Yorkshire.

Tour de France riders and organisers meanwhile praised the "amazing" crowds in Yorkshire but pleaded with people to take more care of their safety.

The number of people standing by the side of the roads along the 190km course stunned many observers but several riders said their enthusiasm had got the better of them.

Marcel Kittel said that while it was great to see, they needed to be more wary of their safety.

"There were some moments when I thought, now we will crash because the spectators were taking pictures and didn't see that they were in the centre of the road," he said.

"It's very important to tell people we are of course happy to have them there, they were an amazing crowd, it was really amazing to see them there, but they really have to take care of themselves and stay off the road and look after their children."

Tour organisers took to Twitter to plead with people to be more careful, saying: "SECURITY MESSAGE: please stay beside the road during the race." German sprinter Andre Greipel also griped about the overzealous fans lining the streets.

He tweeted: "I appreciate people coming to support us + making an incredible feeling 4 us along the road but please stay beside the road not on the road."

Not everyone thought it was a problem, though.

Australian Simon Gerrans crashed in the sprint finish when he came together with Briton Mark Cavendish but he had nothing but praise for the supporters.

"The crowds were unbelievable, it's not too many times in my career that I've raced in front of crowds as big as we've had today," he said.

"It's a bit of a buzz racing in front of so many people."

Some people compared the crowds on the Yorkshire Dales with the throngs usually seen in the Alps or Pyrenees.

Garmin Sharp's American manager and former racer Jonathan Vaughters tweeted a picture of the crowds with a message: "Crowds were truly incredible today. Biggest I've seen outside l'alpe d'huez."

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What are the rules on taking your bike on the train in France?

The French government is keen to encourage cycling and has published a decree relating to bike commuting, but travelling on a train with a bike can still be quite complicated.

What are the rules on taking your bike on the train in France?
Photo: Jacques Demarthon/AFP

Can I commute with my bike? 

The French government is keen to encourage ‘multimode’ commuting – or people who cycle part of the way to work and take the train or bus for the rest.

On June 10th 2021, it published a decree which makes it mandatory for SNCF train stations and Paris’ RATP stations which have high numbers of passengers to provide secured parking spaces for bikes by 2024. This obligation concerns 1,133 train stations, which represent 37 percent of all train stations in France. 

How can I carry my bike on the train?

When it comes to taking a bike on longer train journeys, the rules vary depending on the type of train you are using. 

You can bring your bike, without having to disassemble it, on every TER (regional train) for free and without having to make a reservation, but keep in mind that space is limited. Since March 2021, every new trains or trains that are being renovated must have at least 8 spaces for bikes on board. 

Some TGVs (high-speed trains) and most Intercités (non high-speed national trains) offer a possibility to take your bike aboard, and in those where you can, you must make a reservation online or at the train station when you buy your ticket. 

THIS MAP allows you to check all the main long distance train lines that allow bikes on board.

When to take the train with your bike? 

In TERs, spaces for bikes are available on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be booked, therefore it’s better not to travel during rush hours. 

You’ll find special information about when and how to travel with your bike on TGVs and Intercités on the SNCF website. 

How to reserve a spot for your bike?

For TERs, making a reservation is not possible. 

For TGVs and Intercités, if you want to travel with an assembled bike, you must make a reservation for a dedicated spot when you buy your ticket on the website . The price to add a bike on a TGV starts from 10€ and from 5€ on an Intercités. Adding a bike after you bought your ticket is not possible. 

Also, it’s important to note that you won’t be able to reserve a space for your bike when you  make a reservation from your phone on the app You can add a bike from your phone with the app Trainline

How to carry a disassembled bike?

You can carry your bike in every SNCF trains as long as it is disassembled in a bag which dimensions doesn’t exceed 90x120cm. In this case, it is considered hand luggage. 

Are trailers, tandems and cargo bikes allowed? 

Only regular bikes are accepted on trains. Carrying recumbent bikes, tricycles, tandems or trailers is not allowed. Only one train makes an exception during summer: the train Loire à Vélo, a train that goes from Nevers in the Center of France to the Atlantic Coast

Special info and tips if you want to travel by train with your bike this summer 

On the line Bretagne / TER : From June 7th to September 30th 2021, making a reservation for your bike to travel on a TER in the Bretagne région is mandatory. You will have to pay 3€ per bike and you can only reserve a ticket that includes a bike on the website

Travelling with the Train Loire à Vélo : This train that goes from the city of Orléans to Le Croisic on the Atlantic Coast is back on track. The ride is free and you don’t have to make a reservation for your bike. 

The Nouvelle-Aquitaine / La Vélodyssée service : In the Nouvelle Aquitaine region which includes Bordeaux and Biarritz, a special TER service with bikes allowed will be working from mid-July to August 2021. It will be free and without reservation, you can find some info on this map

On the line ViaRhôna / TER Lyon – Avignon : From July 3rd to September 19th, it will be possible to travel between the cities of Lyon and Avignon by train with your bike but only during week-ends and bank holidays. You must make a reservation and the price per bike will be of 3€.

La Véloscénie :  is a special itinerary for people who want to cycle between Paris and the Mont Saint-Michel and visit different places along the journey. From May to September the line from Paris to Pontorson Mont Saint-Michel embarks your bikes for free.