YORKSHIRE'S roads could be "dangerous" for Tour de France riders, one of the world's best sprinters has warned.
German rider Marcel Kittel gave his verdict on the route following a four-day reconnaissance of the Grand Depart route with five of his Giant-Shimano teammates.
It is the 25-year-old’s first trip to the UK and he said the terrain and roads were very different to what he had expected,
Kittel, who is one of British spring king Mark Cavendish's main rivals, added that it was not an easy route and there were a lot of hills.
He said there were risky areas on both the opening stages.
Speaking to the media after a training ride, he said the narrow roads bordered by stone walls could be dangerous to a Tour de France peloton.
"On the descents when you ride through the more lonely roads in the middle of nowhere they are very narrow and very small with stone walls on both sides, so a very nervous Tour de France peloton fighting for the yellow jersey passes by, there can be a very dangerous situation.”
The organisers of the route have said it has been designed to provide a technical challenge for the world’s best riders.
The Tour de France regularly features technically challenging sections, including narrow mountain climbs and sections over cobbles and it is not unknown for riders to suffer tour-ending injuries in the opening stages of a race.
Kittel was the first rider to wear the coveted race leader’s yellow jersey in last year’s Tour de France and secured three other stage wins.
He acknowledged that multiple stage-winner Cavendish, whose mother grew up in Harrogate, had a “special motivation” for a win in his home country and added “But we accept the challenge”.
The Grand Depart begins in Leeds on July 5 and continues from York to Sheffield on July 6 and will pass through the Yorkshire Dales, Ripon and Harrogate.
Tickets for the opening ceremony of the Tour de France, held two days before the race starts at Leeds Arena, have gone on sale this week.