One of the biggest moments in Yorkshire cycling history saw the Départ of the 2014 Tour de France take place in the county.
The first stage was between Leeds and Harrogate and was, goes the thinking, designed for Mark Cavendish to win, which would have given him a tidy boost in his bid for the green jersey.
Bear with me, I’ll get to the football.
As it was, Cavendish crashed into Simon Gerrans in the run in, which allowed Marcel Kittel the win, the points and most importantly, the Yellow Jersey.
For one day, Kittel held the Yellow Jersey, a sprinter in a climbers shirt.
That day, the Tour de France passed through Huddersfield on its way to Sheffield, where genuine GC contender Vincenzo Nibali surged into the lead up Jenkin Hill Road, gaining an advantage he lost only after Stage 9 to Mulhouse (say it, it’s lovely, “m’lose”) when Tony Gallopin claimed it for a day.
But Kittel wore the Yellow Jersey for a day. It shouldn’t really happen, but it did. Yesterday, Huddersfield Town were Marcel Kittel.
They are not realistic contenders for the Premier League’s General Classification, and now one of those big beasts has claimed the top spot as expected. But for a day, they were in yellow.
In a way, the Premier League Huddersfield are in is a lot like the points competition in a cycle race. They are not expected to do well in the mountains, climbing to such peaks to defeat Arsenal and Manchester City is likely beyond them (though there’s something of the Peter Sagan to Burnley’s result yesterday; one to worry about).
However, when it comes to head to head combat, when they are facing off against those other teams who are expected to be competing not for the Yellow Jersey but the green, they need to get as many points as they can.
In that, striking a mental blow by winning the first stage could be all important.
They’ve got the points on the board, made sure they’re top of the mini-league at the bottom and that spell at the top of the actual league is just a bonus.
Crystal Palace might not end up being the Mark Cavendish of the story; the Premier League has a lot more ‘sprint’ stages than the Tour de France, but they will be feeling a little more nervous knowing that they’ve lost a game to a team who will likely be a rival at the end of the season.
There’s a cursory note that needs to be made in this tale; Sagan took the green jersey as expected, as soon as the second stage.
Yes, the day the Tour passed through Huddersfield was Kittel’s best in that competition. I hope the Terriers do not find that same problem; by the time the Premier League visits Huddersfield, most other teams will have played their second game.
Kittel eventually finished fourth, behind Sagan, Alexander Kristoff and the excellent Bryan Coquard.
Fourth in the lower table mini-league would do just fine, I’m sure, but look out for the Greipel, the Renshaw and the rest.