Maybe it’s not so grim up north after all. A shot of continental sporting glamour – courtesy of the Tour de France – was all it needed, apparently.
The bike race starts today in Leeds, in Yorkshire. Over the new few days, the cyclists will head south, passing through London on Monday and then on to France.
As its name suggests, the race then follows a route around France. The exact course varies each year, but the finish line will be the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
In total, competitors will cover 3,500km of French soil, plus, this year, an extra 549km in England.
It’s the biggest event in the world’s cycling calendar each year. At the end of each stage of it, the cyclist with the best cumulative time gets to wear a yellow jumper, a maillot jaune. These are highly coveted garments, as you can imagine.
The best hill climber gets a spotted jersey, and the best under-25 gets a white one.
The race lasts three weeks, during which time 198 riders – 22 multinational teams of nine – will battle to take home the crown.
This is the fourth time in the race’s 111-year history that England has hosted the grand départ. This time around it’s generated a lot of interest and excitement.
Indeed, some would say that Yorkshire has caught a severe case of yellow fever.