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Tour de France in Cambridge

Stage Three of the 2014 Tour de France, on Monday 7th July 2014, is from Cambridge to London. The start in Cambridge is a départ fictif, meaning that the riders will travel in procession through the city until just outside Trumpington, where the racing starts.

When the route was announced in October 2013, Councillor Tim Bick, leader of Cambridge City Council, said at a press conference, 'We can be sure that Monday 7th July will be a day like no other in Cambridge next year. It's with real pride that the cycling capital of the UK will welcome the world's elite sporting cyclists. An amazing and unforgettable spectacle is promised. The route will enable local people to see the peloton...in both intimate and grand settings as it snakes through the city. In return it will offer to the world the backdrop of our beautiful city - its open spaces and its ancient colleges.'

Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour de France, visited Cambridge on 8th April 2014, and posed for photos by the start line which had been painted on Gonville Place. He was quoted by Cambridge News as saying, 'What cities like Cambridge have is very important for us, because the more people we have on bicycles every day in order to go to work, for fun, and for health, the more people who will be fans of cycling for champions.'

'Everything is in order for July 7. I'm sure there will be passion in Yorkshire and London but here in Cambridge there is a link between everyday bicycling and champions and I think it will be stronger.'

Tour de France in Cambridge: the route

The Tour de France route through Cambridge is shown on this map:

Map of Tour de France route through Cambridge

The riders start on Gonville Place, by Parker's Piece, where there'll be a spectator hub. From Gonville Place, they head up Regent Street, which turns into Andrew's Street, then Sidney Street. Here, the Tour will go past a number of colleges. There's Downing College first, on the left, then Emmanuel College and Christ's College on the right. Holy Trinity church is on the left, on the corner with Market Street, followed by Sidney Sussex College on the right. The race turns down St John's Street where it passes the Round Church on the right. St John's College is the first building on the right on St John's Street, with its Divinity School opposite. Next to St John's is Trinity College, and further along the route, Gonville & Caius, just before the Senate House and King's College. The Tour then passes Corpus Christi, St Catherine's, and Pembroke colleges, the church of St Mary the Less, Peterhouse, and the Fitzwilliam Museum.

The route is shown in this Tour de France in Cambridge video:

Tour de France in Cambridge: where to watch the race

Parker's Piece, Cambridge

Probably the most popular place to watch the Tour in Cambridge will be the spectator hub at Parker's Piece, which will have space for 10,000 people, with a big screen. It'll be a continuation of the Big Weekend event over the weekend, with Parker's Piece turned into a cycling village on Monday 7th July. The riders will be introduced to the public here. 

Cambridge City Council say that it will be possible to see some of the riders warming up. They say the riders will sign in shortly before the race, near the start arch on Gonville Place, then they'll set off around 12.15. Also on their 'watching the race' page are some banal tips (wear sun cream if it's sunny - come on). They note that 120,000 people watched the Olympic torch relay in Cambridge; the Tour de France could see significant numbers of spectators - perhaps as many as 400,000, according to reports in Cambridge News.

Tour de France in Cambridge: timings

The ceremonial start (départ fictif) from Gonville Place in Cambridge is scheduled for 12.15 on Monday 7th July 2014, according to Cambridge City Council. (On the schedule on the Tour's website, the start time is 11.15, but we believe that's wrong, as it doesn't fit with their timings for the rest of the race). Thereafter, the riders will make their way through the city - up to the Round Church, then back down past St John's College, Trinity College, and King's College - before leaving Cambridge on the Trumpington Road. 

The racing starts just before Trumpington at 1225.

See the full Stage 3 timings.

Tour de France in Cambridge: road closures

Roads in Cambridge will start to close at 5.30pm on Sunday 6th July, and others will close on the morning of Monday 7th July. The planned closures are:

  • at 5.30pm, Sunday 6th July, the roads around the spectator hub at Parker's Piece will close - Gonville Place and Parkside
  • at 4am, Monday 7th July, the roads of the route in Cambridge, plus roads directly linked to them, will close - Regent Street, St Andrew's Street, Sidney Street, Bridge Street, King's Parade, Trumpington Street, Park Terrace, Parker Street, Emmanuel Road, Victoria Avenue, Drummer Street, and Emmanuel Street
  • at 7am, roads a little further along the route, and other roads linked to the route, will close - Lensfield Road, Jesus Lane, Trumpington Road, Hills Road (between Regent Street & Station Road), and the A1301

There will be a phased re-opening of the roads from 3pm on Monday 7th July, with the last roads, in the centre of Cambridge, re-opening at 6pm.

Cambridge City Council have details of the road closures, and Cambridgeshire County Council have further details and an interactive road closures map. They have also produced a pdf map of central Cambridge Tour road closures, and a pdf map of Cambridge and south Cambridgeshire Tour road closures.

Tour de France in Cambridge: where to stay

University Arms, Cambridge

A the time of writing (May 2014), Cambridge City Council say there is still accommodation available in Cambridge for the Tour. They suggest Visit Cambridge's accommodation section as a good starting point.

Tour de France in Cambridge: events

The Vélo Festival is a programme of events taking place across the county of Cambridgeshire from May to September 2014. The Festival is to celebrate cycling in Cambridgeshire through culture and sport. 

For example, on 31st May & 1st June, there's a European bike polo tournament at Netherhall Sports Centre, Cambridge; on 15th June, the Cambridge Triathlon 2014 and the Huntingdonshire Cycling Festival take place; and starting on Friday 4th July, it's the Big Weekend on Parker's Piece, with music, fireworks, sports to take part in. The start of Stage 3 of the Tour de France on Monday 7th July rounds off the Big Weekend. 

The Festival continues in August and September. For example, on 28th September, there's a mass participation City of Cambridge Triathlon based at Jesus Green.

Tour de France in Cambridge: parking, cycle parking, and public transport

Cambridge City Council have details of car parks which will be inaccessible due to Tour road closures. They include Queen Anne Terrace, Grand Arcade, and Park Street car parks.

There'll be extra cycle parking throughout the city on Monday 7th July.

Buses and trains should be running, but schedules may change. Trains will probably run as normal, with extra carriages. Bus operators will try to run as near to a normal service as possible, and Park & Ride services should start at the normal time. Drummer Street bus station will be inaccessible, and a bus hub will be created at the railway station to the south of the city. In the north, buses will stop at Maids Causeway, around Mitcham's Corner, and at Queens Road. Cambridge County Council have produces a table of TDF bus changes in Cambridge.

Parker's Piece

Parker's Piece, Cambridge

This land belonged to Trinity College, and was named after Edward Parker, the college cook. In 1613, it was exchanged with the town for land elsewhere, which is now Trinity's part of the The Backs. Parker's Piece was much used as a games field in the 1800s - for first class cricket matches, and for Varsity matches against Oxford. Football was played here, under the Cambridge Rules of 1848. Those rules were influential in drawing up the modern rules of association football in 1863, by the FA in London.

There's a large cast iron lamppost in the middle of Parker's Piece, known as Reality Checkpoint.

Downing College

Downing College was founded in 1800, under the (complicated, and contested) will of Sir George Downing, who had died 51 years earlier. (It was Downing's grandfather who built 10 Downing Street). The original architect was William Wilkins, and the college is notable for its open, unenclosed character. The style is classical (Greek Revival).

John Cleese went to Downing College.

Emmanuel College

Emmanuel College, Cambridge

Emmanuel College is sometimes known as 'Emma'.

It was founded in 1584 by Puritan Sir Walter Mildmay, to train men for preaching in the church. Asked about it by Elizabeth I, he said, 'No, madam, far be it from me to countenance anything contrary to your laws; but I have set an acorn, which, when it becomes an oak, God alone knows what will be the fruit thereof'. (But, more acorns, probably. Best not to hope for damsons, you'll almost certainly be disappointed).

Emmanuel College was built on the site of a Dominican Friary, which had been dissolved in 1538. Ralph Symonds converted and added to the friary. Sir Christopher Wren designed the new chapel in 1677. Much of the college was rebuilt by James Essex in the 1760s and 1770s. 

When Puritans were persecuted in the 1630s, many Emmanuel men left for America. New Town, Massachusetts was renamed Cambridge in honour of preacher Thomas Shepherd, and another Cambridge emigrant, John Harvard, was a major benefactor of the university which is now named after him. Each year, a Harvard graduate is invited to study at Emmanuel, and vice versa, under the Lionel de Jersey Harvard Studentship.

Christ's College

Christ's College, Cambridge

Christ's College was founded as God's House in 1436 by William Byngham, to train teachers for schools. It was then moved to the present site in the 1440s, and refounded as Christ's College in 1505 by Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII.

There are brick buildings dating from 1505-11, but many were refaced by James Essex in the 1760s. New Court is a truly horrendous addition to the college from the late 1960s.

Gate Tower, Christ's College, Cambridge   First Court, Christ's College, Cambridge

The entrance is via the Gate Tower, which features Lady Margaret's Beaufort arms, supported by fantastical creatures called 'yales' - similar to antelopes. The panelled doors are original, but have been trimmed at the bottom, because the street level has changed. 

Christ's has an outdoor swimming pool, fed by Hobson's Brook.

Famous alumni include John Milton, the poet, and naturalist Charles Darwin.

Holy Trinity church, Cambridge

Holy Trinity church, Cambridge

Holy Trinity church dates from around 1350, built on the site of an earlier church which burnt down in 1174. Historically, it was linked to the Evangelical movement, and the best-known vicar was Charles Simeon (at Holy Trinity from 1782-1836). 

Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge

Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge

Sidney Sussex College was founded in 1596, under the will of Lady Frances Sidney, wife of the Earl of Sussex. Their family crest, based on a porcupine, is to be found in several places on the building. The college was built on the site of Greyfriars Convent (dissolved 1538).

Like Emmanuel College, the purpose of the establishment was to train men for a godly preaching ministry.

The original brick building were altered by Sir Jeffry ('not enough vowels') Wyattville, who added Roman cement and battlements (1821-32).

The most famous member of the college is Oliver Cromwell. Since 1960, his head has been buried beneath the college's ante-chapel. (When Charles II returned to England as king, Cromwell's body was disinterred from Westminster Abbey, and he was given a posthumous execution at Tyburn, then his head put on a spike above Westminster Hall, where it remained until until 1685.  It was then in the hands of private collectors until 1960.)

The Round Church, Cambridge

The Round Church, Cambridge

Properly known as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Round Church dates from 1125-1150. It was build for the Fraternity of the Holy Sepulchre, and is unusual in having a round nave. It was altered in the 1400s, and restored in 1841.

St John's College, Cambridge

St John's College, Cambridge

St John's College is the second biggest Cambridge college (behind Trinity).

It was founded in 1511 by John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, according to the wishes of Henry VII's mother, Lady Margaret of Beaufort. It replaced the Hospital of St John the Evangelist, from the late 1100s, and only the Hospital's chapel was retained (replaced by Gilbert Scott in the 1800s).

There are speedwell flowers among Lady Margaret's emblems. They are known locally as 'remember me', and the college's motto is 'souvent me souvient'.

St John's Lady Margaret Boat Club was founded in 1825, and it challenged Oxford to a race in 1829, the forerunner of the Cambridge-Oxford boat race.

William Wordsworth attended St John's College, as did William Wilberforce.

Divinity School, St John's College, Cambridge

Selwyn Divinity School, Cambridge

The Divinity School, St John's College, was formerly known as the Selwyn Divinity School. It is late Gothic, or Tudor Gothic style, and was designed by Basil Champneys, completed in 1879. The building's corner tower is particularly admired.

Trinity College, Cambridge

Trinity College, Cambridge

Trinity is the largest and richest of the Cambridge colleges. It was founded in 1546 by Henry VIII, and a statue of him stands above the Great Gate. Thomas Nevile, Master from 1593, was responsible for many of the present buildings. The college's library, though, was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and finished in 1690.

Famous members of the college include Francis Bacon, Lord Byron, Alfred Lord Tennyson, A A Milne, Nehru, and Isaac Newton.

Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge

Gonville & Caius College

Gonville & Caius college is usually known as Caius (pronounced 'keys'). It was founded by Edmund Gonville in 1348, and refounded by John Caius in 1558. The college has a medical tradition. Conservative politician Kenneth Clarke is a member.

Senate House, Cambridge

Senate House, Cambridge

The Senate House was built in 1730, to the design of James Gibbs (architect of St Martin in the Fields). It is used for University ceremonies, including conferring degrees.

King's College, Cambridge

King's College, Cambridge

King's Parade is dominated by the late Gothic architecture of King's College, designed by William Wilkins in the 1820s. The college was founded in 1441 by Henry VI, with scholars to come from the school he had established at Eton. Until the 1870s, it only admitted old Etonians.

Famous members include Robert Walpole, E M Forster, John Maynard Keynes, and Rupert Brooke.

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Corpus Christi dates from the 1350s, and is unusual in being founded by local people - the united town guilds. New Court (inside the entrance) is Tudor Gothic in style, built to the designs of William Wilkins in the 1820s.

St Catherine's College, Cambridge

Founded in 1473, but mainly built in the 1600 and 1700s, famous members of St Catherine's include botanist Adam Buddle (the Buddleia is named after him), and John Addenbrooke (founder of Addenbrooke's hospital).

Pembroke College, Cambridge

Pembroke College, Cambridge

Pembroke was founded in 1347 by the Countess of Pembroke. Famous members include poet Ted Hughes, and comedian Peter Cook.

St Mary the Less, Cambridge

St Mary the Less, Cambridge

Completed in 1352, St Mary the Less was originally the college chapel of Peterhouse.

Peterhouse, Cambridge

Peterhouse College, Cambridge

Peterhouse has the distinction of being the oldest college in Cambridge. It was founded by the Bishop of Ely in 1287. William Kelvin and Frank Whittle (inventor of the jet engine) both attended Peterhouse.

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

The Fitzwilliam museum is a public art gallery. It was closed from July 2013 for renovations, but the main building works were due to be finished in time for the Tour de France.