Tour de France 2014 hits London: Best places in the capital to watch Le Grand Tour
Fastest cyclists expected to finish at 3.42pm on the Mall
The Tour de France will arrive in London today, with the climax of stage three taking the world’s biggest annual sporting event past Buckingham Palace and up the Mall to the finish line.
It is the same iconic backdrop that was used for the end of the road cycling races at the 2012 Olympics, and space from which to catch a glimpse of the final sprint will be at a premium.
But with the full stage spanning 155km (96 miles) from Cambridge to the capital via parts of Essex, there will be plenty of other spots along the way where the view could actually be even better.
The Tour’s general director Christian Prudhomme said at least 2.5 million people have turned out so far to watch the teams’ spectacular climbs over the Yorkshire moors, through city streets and country lanes in what he called “the grandest Grand Depart ever”.
By comparison the London leg will be a flat affair, with the highest point on the route just 108m at Epping Forest.
It should make for a quick race and a good day for the sprinters, though British cycling fans will have to be content to do without Mark Cavendish after he bowed out of the race in a spectacular crash in Harrogate on Saturday.
The final section of the race will see the top cyclists make it in from Canary Wharf to the Mall in around 12 minutes – no mean feat just before rush-hour – passing many famous London landmarks on the way.
Stage 3: 155km from Cambridge to London Gary MacGowan, Transport for London’s planning chief for major road events and the man who designed the course, said that while anyone local to the route would be best to catch it as close to home as possible, there were a few highlights he could recommend.
He told the Evening Standard: “For the best views you can follow the Central line on the Tube that will take you to sites in Redbridge and Waltham Forest within walking distance of the route. All those places on the Lea Bridge road will look fantastic.
“City airport will also be fantastic and the Royal Docks. Excel is also a good bet - you go to Greenwich and come across on the Emirates Airline with a great view.
A marshall looks concerned as an injured Mark Cavendish struggles on after his clash with Simon Gerrans and rides over the line. He later withdrew from the Tour “Aspen Way in Canary Wharf I’d also recommend as riders will be on the elevated section. The race will get there about 3.30pm. We expect a finish at the Mall at 3.40pm-4pm depending on how fast the riders are going for the full stage. The forecast is for a fast race as it is flat the whole way. Watch it locally because that involves the shortest journey.”
As well as watching along the route, spectators can see all the action on giant screens at three “fan parks” in Trafalgar Square, Green Park and the Olympic Park. These will include food and drink stalls, interactive cycling activities, an outdoor cinema and live music.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “As the world's largest annual sporting event prepares to make a triumphant return to our city, London is geared up and raring to go.
Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome (front) lead the Grand Depart at the ceremonial start of The Tour De France in Yorkshire “After months of meticulous planning we are set to deliver a sporting spectacle that will be beamed to an audience of billions across the globe, showcasing some of our finest landmarks and most picturesque views.
“I wish every rider taking part in this gruelling endeavour the best of luck - I'm sure they will no doubt inspire even more Londoners to take to two wheels. Chapeau!”
Estimated arrival times for the Caravan* and the fastest cyclists can be found in the tables below:
Key race locations
Epping Forest (The Sprint)
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
West Ham Lane
Tower of London
Houses of Parliament
The Mall (The Finish)
*Ahead of the actual race, spectators can enjoy the Tour's Publicity Caravan - a convoy of floats, vehicles and entertainers who travel ahead of the race handing out promotional goodies.
Latest in Sport
Jay Hart sex tape: Non-league footballer sacked after being filmed having sex with unknown blonde girl in manager's dug-out
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
Radamel Falcao to Liverpool: Agent of Manchester United striker 'makes contact' with Anfield
Cesc Fabregas in Premier League title dig at Arsenal after pointing out '27 year wait'
Manchester United 2015/16 kit leak: Orange and black strip likened to former Chelsea jersey emerges online
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 5 Cancel Sky at your peril: man spends 96 minutes in chat but fails to get rid of service
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...
£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...