More than three million expected to welcome Tour De France to Yorkshire for the Grand Depart (From The Northern Echo)
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More than three million expected to welcome Tour De France to Yorkshire for the Grand Depart
THREE million people are expected to line the streets of Yorkshire to watch the opening stages of the Tour De France when it comes to the region next year.
Ahead of a huge fireworks display worthy of the world's most famous cycle race, the region today (Thursday, January 17), learned the route of the 101st Tour's Grand Depart.
Although there was disappointment that organisers had opted to miss out some well-known areas of the county, the majority of people were jubilant at the thought of the cycling's biggest names coming to their doorstep.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome To Yorkshire, led the successful bid which beat off stiff competition from Florence and Edinburgh.
"The routes of the Grand Depart will showcase some of Yorkshire's iconic cycling climbs and the county's stunning land and cityscapes," he told the launch at Leeds Town Hall.
"The peloton will be technically tested as they tackle some challenging terrain in what are sure to be two exhilarating days of racing in the county."
Mr Verity said he wanted the Tour's visit to be a springboard that would lead to a boost in the number of people cycling and an improvement in the regions health.
"We aim, in the ten years after the Tour, that Yorkshire will still be feeling the benefits," he said, adding that every child in Yorkshire would have access to a bike and training following the running of the event.
The Tour will leave Leeds on July 5, 2014, before heading off on a 120-mile circuit of the Yorkshire Dales, passing villages in Swaledale and Wensleydale, then heading through Leyburn and Ripon to a sprint finish in Harrogate.
Race director, Christian Prudhomme, said the first stage could be a day for British celebrations and singled out sprint ace Mark Cavendish, whose mother, Adele, lives in the Spa town.
"None of the sprinters should be afraid of this stage and one of the fastest might want to win the first yellow jersey in front of his mother in Harrogate," he said.
While in Yorkshire the peloton will pass 47 historic houses and castles, including Fountains and Jervaulx abbeys,and Richmond and Middleham castles.
Stage Two starts on the cobbles of York, before heading past Knaresborough and into Bronte country, ending in an undulating finish in Sheffield.
The third stage of the race will run between Cambridge and London, which hosted the prologue when the Tour last visited the UK in 2007.
Toby Underwood, of accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers (CORR), said he expected the region's economy to be boosted to the tune of more than £100m.
"If we get this right and the investment goes into Yorkshire it will be felt for generations to come," he said as it was revealed that of the 10,000 hotel rooms in Yorkshire, 1,200 of them had already been booked up for the week of the Tour.
Coun John Blackie, leader of Richmondshire District Council, said: "This is a world class competition that will run through world class countryside past the home of world class Wensleydale Cheese and amidst a world class welcome on offer from Dales folk, renowned for their friendliness."
The announcement of the Tour route came just hours before disgraced seven-time winner Lance Armstrong spoke publicly for the first time about doping in the sport.
M Prudhomme said cycling was trying to move on and was looking forward to a future when it would be much cleaner.
"Armstrong is the past - Yorkshire is the future," he said.
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