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Tour De France chief already looking to return to Yorkshire
THE director of the Tour De France says he hopes to bring the race back to Yorkshire again.
A day after the route of the 2014 Grand Depart was revealed, with several areas of North Yorkshire at its core, Race Director, Christian Prudhomme, said plans were already in hand to return to the county.
"When we came in May to look at the roads we flew over to Scarborough and it was gorgeous, a really wonderful landscape," he said after stopping for tea and chocolate cake at Bettys (CORR) Tea Rooms in Harrogate.
"I cant say we will be back in two or three years, but we have plans here for the future."
The 52-year-old Frenchman who comes from St Omer, in the North-East of the country, said he saw many similarities between Englands largest county and his home patch and Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, who championed the bid, said he was looking forward to working with him in the years to come.
There were some who were disappointed by the route the worlds greatest cycling race will take when it starts on July 5, as it largely neglects the coastal areas of the county, such as Whitby and the aforementioned town of Scarborough.
However, defending the decision to focus the opening two stages in the Yorkshire Dales and the Pennines, M Prudhomme said while race organisers had been set last summer on finishing a stage on the Yorkshire coast, technical difficulties surrounding a suitable finish line were the principal reason behind the agreed route.
Dismissing criticism that the race would visit places such as Knaresborough and Harrogate, which were only a few miles apart, M Prudhomme said the event had different technical aspects and needed to be focused in an area where the riders could remain in one hotel.
After attending a short ceremony in Ripon Cathedral, during which the Dean, Rev Keith Jukes, said a prayer for the Tour, M Prudhomme met locals and tasted Yorkshire ales at the One Eyed Rat pub in the city.
He said he believed Yorkshire would provide a fresh impetus for the race, which has been mired in controversy following the doping revelations surrounding seven-times champion, Lance Armstrong.
Armstrong came clean, to some extent, on Thursday night in an interview with US chat show host, Oprah Winfrey.
But M Prudhomme dismissed him like a fading memory.
"Armstrong is the past, Yorkshire is the future," he said, adding that doping was not only his sports problem.
"Its not just a subject that affects cycling, it affects many other sports as well and we are trying now to move on from what has happened in the past.
"No one could have imagined only a few weeks ago that Lance Armstrong would make his confession publicly.
"The Tour De France has been getting better for several years now. We are starting with a clean slate."
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