5:25pm Wednesday 2nd July 2014
THE organisers of the Yorkshire Tour de France Grand Depart say the number of spectators expected to line the route of the opening stages has risen to more than four million.
Welcome to Yorkshire, whose chief executive Gary Verity predicted three million fans would turn out for the spectacle after winning the right to stage the event, said more than two million people were now expected to line each of the Yorkshire stages.
The tourism body issued the statement as as the media village in Leeds, where the opening stage will start before heading into the Yorkshire Dales, welcomed more than 2,000 journalists from nearly 600 news organisations.
While a number of the teams racing the in the Tour trained in the Yorkshire Dales, bodies ranging from councils to emergency services said they were prepared for the world's largest annual sporting event to start on Saturday (July 5).
Richmondshire District Council said it was advising spectators to arrive very early to watch the race, which Olympic cycling gold medalist Chris Boardman described as "possibly the Tour's toughest opening stage for decades".
The authority's leader, Councillor John Blackie, said: "Preparing for the race has instilled a great sense of civic pride and a powerful boost to our self-esteem especially as very nearly all the hard work has been done by dedicated small brigades of community volunteers."
Alan Weston, development manager for Ripon, which is the closest point of the race route to the A1, said while organisers of the event in the city remained unclear how many spectators they were expecting, detailed plans had been prepared to cater for huge numbers of cars.
He said one of the car parks in the city was opening at 6pm on Friday and would be manned throughout the night.
Mr Weston said: "It is just the final nuts and bolts now, everything is in place."
North Yorkshire County Council warned that any cars left on the race route would be removed by contractors to prevent obstructions to the race or crowd or traffic movement.
It said notices would be attached nearby advising of the location of the vehicle and a telephone number which the owner can contact.
While Public Health England issued an alert for spectators camping on farmland to mind their hygiene, Yorkshire Ambulance Service said it was increasing the number of staff and vehicles on the road.
East Coast Main Line rail operator East Coast urged passengers to plan their journeys, saying it expected services to be very busy at the weekend.
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