YORKSHIRE will stage the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014, it has been announced.
Following months of mounting tension between rival bids, the organisers of the world’s largest annual sporting event decided tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire’s overall package was the strongest.
The event, which is set to include road stages across the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors and Yorkshire Coast, is set to generate hundreds of millions of pounds for the regional economy.
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Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "Today is a proud day for everyone involved in the bid and the county as a whole.
“We are honoured that the race organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), have selected Yorkshire to be the host location of the 2014 Grand Départ.
“It will mean 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, and I am in no doubt they will come to Yorkshire in their millions, lining the length and breadth of the route to cheer on the champions of world cycling and our home grown British heroes.
“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 the July 5 and July 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.
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.”
The county's bid has the high profile support of former world champion and Tour de France sprint star Mark Cavendish, Team Sky’s Ben Swift and Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy as well as former Tour legends from the county, Brian Robinson - the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France in 1958 - Barry Hoban - winner of eight stages of Le Tour - and one of Britain’s most successful and best loved riders, Malcolm Elliott the first British rider to win a points jersey in a Grand Tour.
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.
Ripon MP Julian Smith said: “I am delighted by the news that Yorkshire will be host to the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in 2014. This will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase Yorkshire to the world, bringing yet another world class sporting event to the UK.
“With a global audience of over two billion people watching the Tour de France every year, the backdrop is vital. In Yorkshire you could not ask for more. Some of the most iconic roads and scenery in the country, if not the world are here.
“Yorkshire and the UK has beaten many eminent world cities and countries and I am sure everyone in the region will now start preparing to ensure the event is a brilliant success.
"I look forward to celebrating the success and discussing how the country can get behind the bid in my Parliamentary debate on the subject next week.”
Further details of the Grand Départ will be announced on January 17, in Leeds and Paris.