Clock starts ticking as Leeds begins final countdown to the Grand Départ

The final countdown to Leeds hosting the start of this year’s Tour de France officially begins this week.

As part of the celebrations to mark 50 days to go until the Grand Départ of the world’s largest annual sporting event, a unique countdown clock will officially start ticking down at Trinity Leeds shopping centre from 6pm on Friday night (May 16).

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Media are invited to attend the switch-on of the Grand Départ countdown clock at Trinity Leeds shopping centre at 6pm on Friday 16 May. Interviews will be available with all partners in the project including Cllr Lucinda Yeadon, designer Barney George and students from the University of Leeds School of Mechanical Engineering.

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The stylish and striking clock entitled the ‘Grand Départ Mechanical Theatre’ was designed by Leeds-based theatre designer Barney George following an open commission process by Leeds City Council.

The ambitious design is a celebration of cycling inspired by the mechanics of a bicycle. Made from giant steel cogs and precision cut woodwork, the clock features a giant outer cog which counts down days while smaller inner dials count hours, minutes and seconds.

Such is the intricacy of the clock, manufactured in collaboration with the University of Leeds’ School of Mechanical Engineering, each cog is interconnected, bringing together a range of bicycles and cyclists which move around the outer rim. As the countdown reaches zero on the morning of Saturday 5 July, the finale will feature a series of chimes and confetti cannons to signal that the time of the Grand Départ has arrived.

Designer Barney George said:

“As the work comes to life we are reminded of the joy of cycling: the dreaming child, the elderly lady on a daily route, the super fit competition rider. Very much like a team in Le Tour, each urging the other to achieve the ultimate goal of triumph.

“Whether it makes people wonder about design and manufacture, or inspires them to get on their bike and go for a ride I cannot wait to see people’s reactions when my design is unveiled on Friday.”

Leeds City Council executive member for leisure and skills Councillor Lucinda Yeadon said:

“The finished clock is amazing – I’m sure people are going to be fascinated by it when they see it at Trinity Leeds over the next 50 days. Barney’s vision and imagination for the design has been fantastic and it has been brought to life brilliantly by the students at the University of Leeds.

“The next 50 days are going to fly by as the excitement builds and builds to us welcoming the world to watch the start of this incredible global event here in Leeds, and the clock will provide a lasting memory of the Tour for years to come.”

Gerald Jennings, Portfolio Director at Land Securities, the developer behind the Trinity Leeds shopping complex, said:

“We’re really proud to be hosting Barney’s winning design at Trinity Leeds so that millions of shoppers and passers-by will be able to see and enjoy it in action. This will be a momentous year for the city and one which is unlikely to ever happen again.”

Senior Teaching Fellow at the School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds Dan Trowsdale said:

“The hours have been building up over the last few days to ensure the cycle mechanisms and electronic controls are fully operational, fingers crossed everything works as planned!

“Meeting the demands of the intricate mechanical theatre and electronic show design has been a real challenge and a great experience for the students. Working on this project has tested us all but it has been fun and enjoyable and the end result will be something everyone involved can be very proud of.”

Aside from the countdown clock, more of the official Grand Départ banners will be seen along the route in Leeds to mark 50 days to go, as well as the first of many bikes which have been specially painted yellow and placed at locations on the route.

To find out all the latest news and information for Leeds about the Tour de France visit www.leeds.gov.uk/granddepartleeds or sign up for email alerts at granddepartleeds@leeds.gov.uk.

For the latest information on Yorkshire’s Grand Départ visit www.letouryorkshire.com

Notes to editors:

The 2014 Tour de France begins in Leeds on Saturday 5 July, with stage one taking the riders 190kilometres to Harrogate.

Stage two on Sunday 6 July is 200km from York to Sheffield, while stage three on Monday 7 July is 159km from Cambridge to London.

It is estimated that 98 per cent of the population of Yorkshire will be within an hour of the route during its two days in the county, with the economic benefit expected to be in excess of £100m.

The University of Leeds is hosting a programme of activities to celebrate the Grand Départ, including free public lectures. More information can be found on their website at www.leeds.ac.uk

Trinity Leeds is situated in the heart of the city with 1 million sq ft of shopping and leisure and includes over 120 new shops, stores and restaurants. For more information go to www.trinityleeds.com

Land Securities is the UK’s largest commercial property company. For more information see www.landsecurities.com


For media enquiries please contact:

Roger Boyde,

Leeds City Council press office,

Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk