Great news for Northern England today: Yorkshire will host the Grand Départ, the huge opening part of the 2014 Tour de France, bringing the iconic race to the north of England for the first time.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the agency behind the county’s bid, noted that “less than two years after hosting the Olympics, the British public can look forward to another of the world’s biggest sporting events coming to the country...Yorkshire is a passionate county of proud people and I am sure they will guarantee that their Grand Départ raises the bar in terms of expectations for all future hosts to come.”
The county will host the first two days racing on July 5 and 6 before the Tour moves south for a third stage in southern England, with a finish in London. The host city of the Grand Départ will be Leeds, which will host a festival of cycling and the arts to coincide with the arrival of the Tour.
Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council added: “We are honored that Leeds has been chosen to be the host city of the 2014 Grand Départ.” Leeds, he added, has a “proud racing and riding history.”
Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France Director, said: “Since the resounding success of the Grand Départ in London in 2007, we were very keen to return to the United Kingdom. Bradley Wiggins’ historical victory last July and the enormous crowds that followed the cycling events in the streets of London during the Olympic Games encouraged us to go back earlier than we had initially planned. Yorkshire is a region of outstanding beauty, with breathtaking landscapes whose terrains offer both sprinters and attackers the opportunity to express themselves. We have encountered a phenomenal desire from the Yorkshire team to welcome the Tour de France and have no doubt that passion and support will be particularly evident for the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014.”
Sandie Dawe, CEO at VisitBritain said: “It is fantastic news that the 2014 Tour de France will start in Yorkshire and that this major sporting event will be back in the UK. The beautiful countryside will be a wonderful backdrop and seen by an international audience as well as the thousands who will come to see the race.
“Cycling in the UK has received a welcome boost due to the success of team GB’s cyclists and Bradley Wiggins’s tour victory, so we hope that a Britain-wide bid will be successful in future years,” she added
The successful bid has been supported within the county by local authorities including Kirklees, Calderdale, North Yorkshire County Council, Bradford, Wakefield, York and Leeds City Council, Leeds and Partners and Leeds City Region Partnership. The bid also has full cross-party political support and buy-in from the business community.
The public campaign to ‘Back le Bid’ resulted in over 170,000 pledges of support to bring the Tour de France to Yorkshire and high profile backing from the likes of the French President, François Hollande.
Further details of the Grand Départ will be announced on January 17, 2013 in Leeds and Paris.