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Clock ticks down to Tour de France start

The final countdown to the Tour de France is truly under way in Leeds after the unveiling of the official countdown clock at Trinity Leeds shopping centre.

The timepiece, entitled the ‘Grand Depart Mechanical Theatre’ and crafted by students from the across the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Leeds, was unveiled to waiting crowds on Friday, 16 May as anticipation builds ahead of the world’s largest annual sporting event in Leeds on Saturday, 5 July.

Made from giant steel cogs and precision cut woodwork, the clock features cyclists, bikes and a massive outer cog which counts down days while smaller inner dials tick off the remaining hours, minutes and seconds.

Such is the intricacy of the clock, the cogs and cyclists appear interconnected, bringing together a range of bicycles and cyclists which cycle at positions around the outer rim.

Dan Trowsdale, Senior Teaching Fellow at the School of Mechanical Engineering, led the team of product design and electronic engineering students Jon Weston-Stanley, Benjamin Wilson, Thomas Oldbury and Tom Carpenter who worked to manufacture the clock, designed by Leeds-based theatre designer Barney George.

The twelve unique mechanical cyclists were developed from Barney’s 2D drawings using 3D computer aided design to produce data which was then used to manufacture hundreds of parts using the faculty’s 3D printing and laser cutting facilities. The custom-made printed circuit boards were designed and built by the students with computer code written specifically for this application to control the cyclists and the light display.

Dan Trowsdale said: “Working on this historic clock has been a tremendous experience for me and the students. The unveiling on Friday marked the culmination of many weeks of hard work and we are delighted with the result. We hope it is a source of pride to the people of Leeds as we build up to the Grand Depart.”

The clock was unveiled on May 16 to mark 50 days until the start of the Tour de France.

Further information

To find out more about the Celebrating The Tour programme of events taking place at the University of Leeds, go to: http://sport.leeds.ac.uk/landing.asp?section=584&sectionTitle=Tour+de+France

For more information, contact Ben Jones in the Press Office on 0113 34 38059 or email B.P.Jones@leeds.ac.uk