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ITV News Correspondent takes on Tour de France challenge

Tour de France cyclists are set for a tough start to this year's race with the climb up Holme Moss Hill, in the Peak District, particularly daunting.

The hill is two miles of twisting road and the summit is 1800 feet high. ITV News Correspondent Damon Green took his bike to see how tough the climb will be.

By Damon Green: ITV News Correspondent

When Yorkshire won the right to host two stages of the Tour de France, the Woodhead Road through the quiet Pennine village of Holme was just a lane, winding and climbing past the TV transmitter.

On Sunday it will be the route of the Tour de France - the biggest and best-known cycle race in the world, a sporting event watched by millions around the world.

The Pennine village of Holme will host the Tour de France this weekend. Credit: ITV News

Tens of thousands will line the A6024 as it climbs out of the picturesque Yorkshire town of Holmfirth. Thousands more will gather at the summit to watch the world's best cyclists spin past.

'La Côte de Holme Moss' - as race organisers have renamed it - will be the single hardest ascent on the Tour this side of the Channel, a slope of two miles reaching an altitude of 1719 feet.

Damon Green attempted the La Côte de Holme Moss - as organisers have called it. Credit: ITV News

Not an alpine peak by any means, but a chance to see the riders grit their teeth and work for the summit.

For local cyclists this is a dream come true.

Melvin Bedford said the trick to completing the hill is to 'keep going'. Credit: ITV News

Melvin Bedford, 70, a retired farmer, rides up here every other day. Incredibly fit for his age, he makes the climb in 14 minutes - just eight minutes slower than the quickest professional riders will manage on Sunday.

The trick is just to keep going. Just keep going and keep going. So long as the weather's good, it's no problem. But if you're riding into the wind and rain - then it's hard.

– Melvin Bedford, retired farmer

John Martin, from nearby Greenfield, says he can't believe the race is coming so close to his home.

John Martin is looking forward to the Tour de France coming to the area. Credit: ITV News

I watch it on telly like everybody else. To be able to step out of my front door and in half an hour be watching the Tour de France - it's just totally wild.

– John Martin

But it's not just cyclists who are welcoming the race with open arms.

Shirley Amesbury runs The Fleece pub in Holme - and on Sunday, when the riders pass, her small car park will hold a marquee, a bandstand and a giant screen tuned in to live race coverage. The event is already so popular you'll need a ticket just to get into the pub.

Damon found the hill tough going at times. Credit: ITV News

James Howard, a farmer whose land lies at the foot of Holme Moss, has converted his cattle shed into a beer barn, his pasture into a camp site and his farmyard into a hospitality tent.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for traders and businesses along the route, and they're determined to make the most of it.

The two mile ascent is the toughest peak cyclists will face in Britain. Credit: ITV News

But for some it's not just an opportunity to cash in. Michael Brammah's home is visible from around a mile away, thanks to the 'Allez Cav' sign covering one side.

Right by the race route, with a prime position to view the race, he's charging £5 a day for bicycle parking. But every penny he collects will be donated to Motor Neurone research.

Damon completed the challenge and decided to head to the pub afterwards. Credit: ITV News

All agree though, that the single biggest factor in the success of the Tour will be the weather. If the sun shines - and here in the Pennines, it sometimes does - this will be a weekend to remember for generations.

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