The Tour de France kicks off next Saturday and this year the whole race takes place on home soil, but that’s not always the case. The race regularly leaves France and passes into neighbouring countries, and over its 104 editions, it’s visited the UK on four occasions, most recently in 2014.
2014 was only the 20th time the race had started outside of France with the famously successful Grand Depart taking place in Leeds, Yorkshire - with the race travelling through York, Sheffield and Cambridge before finishing in London three days later.
This wasn’t the first time the race had started in England either. In 2007 a London prologue saw Fabian Cancellara claim victory in a 5-mile time trial, followed by a first stage win for Robbie McEwen in a London to Canterbury stage. David Millar was the star of the show with a heroic 165-km breakaway taking the polka dot jersey for the best climber.
In 1994, the Tour ventured onto English soil to celebrate the opening of the Channel Tunnel. Stage 4 took place between Dover and Brighton and Stage 5 started and finished in Portsmouth. Despite having taken the yellow jersey in Lille in an impressive prologue time-trial performance, Britain’s Chris Boardman was unable to wear the jersey on home ground with the UK stage victories going Francisco Cabello and Nicola Minali.
1974 was the first time that the Tour de France visited the UK. The race travelled to Plymouth for Stage 2 to celebrate the UK’s entry into the common market. The stage covered 164 km on uninspiring Plympton bypass circuit and was won by Henk Poppe. The stage failed to draw the crowds and Chris Boardman has since commented, "it is a bit like hosting the World Cup in the local park with bundles of coats for goalposts".