MAJOR roads across North Yorkshire will be closed for at least eight hours to enable a predicted million spectators to watch the Tour de France Grand Depart.

North Yorkshire County Council has warned motorists to expect disruption on the roads surrounding the Yorkshire Dales, Ripon and Harrogate from late June as visitors begin to mass in the area.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

It is likely that roads, including stretches of the A65, A61 and A59, will be closed for most of the first day of the world’s largest annual sporting event, Saturday, July 5, to prepare the route, clear the roads for the race and 158-vehicle publicity caravan, dismantle infrastructure and disperse spectators.

Parts of the route with an anticipated high visitor number of spectators, such as the Buttertubs Pass between Wensleydale and Swaledale, will be subject to phased reopening to minimise congestion.

Roads leading to the 118-mile opening stage route will also be closed or subject to traffic management schemes.

Full details of road closures for the 125-mile second stage starting in York have yet to be released.

Precise timings for all the closures will be dictated by variable factors such as race timings, the number of spectators and their arrival times.

Event organisers TdFHUB2014 said, wherever possible, access would be maintained on key routes crossing closed roads for as long as possible before the race, but added parking would be banned on roads surrounding the route on race day.

Planning the closures has involved extensive discussions with all the emergency services, the NHS, highways agencies and councils to ensure that services will be not disrupted. Any emergency will always be treated as a priority.”

TdFHUB2014 chairman Sir Rodney Walker said: “Such is the popularity of the tour it will be watched on the roadside by millions and by billions on television worldwide.

“In terms of logistics it presents a unique and significant challenge as it takes place over vast areas and on public roads with people able to watch for free all along the route so the multi-agency planning required is immense.”

North Yorkshire County Council leader Councillor John Weighell, warned residents to expect disruption on the roads for up to a week before the event.

He said: “Across the Yorkshire region as a whole, it is estimated that the economic value of hosting the Grand Départ will be £100m.

“In return for this, the people of North Yorkshire will experience some transport disruption, and I am confident that they, like me, will consider it a small price to pay for such a massive return.”

Full details of road closures will be listed at