Yorkshire to host 2014 Tour start

British Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins, wearing yellow, riding with Sky Pro Racing team mates

British Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins, wearing yellow, riding with Sky Pro Racing team mates

First published in National News © by

Yorkshire will host the start of the 2014 Tour de France.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the agency behind the county's bid for the Grand Depart stage of the cycling race, said: "Today is a proud day for everyone involved in the bid and the county as a whole.

"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. 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."

More than a million people flocked to the streets of London for the opening prologue when the Grand Depart was last staged in Britain in 2007.

Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation selected Yorkshire ahead of a separate British-wide bid with an Edinburgh start, but that remains in the running for a future date. Yorkshire 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. As the host city of the Grand Depart, Leeds will host a cycling and arts festival to coincide with the arrival of the Tour.

British cycling is now a world beating force - both on the road and on the track - Bradley Wiggins this year became the first British rider to win the Tour and followed it up by winning gold at the London 2012 Olympics.

Describing the 2007 Grand Depart as "an unforgettable memory," Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme, said: "Bradley Wiggins' historic victory last July, the immense enthusiasm in the streets of London during the cycling events at the Olympic Games and the excellent relations we enjoy with our contacts in London are all determining factors that encouraged us to return, seven years later, to the British capital."

British Cycling's president Brian Cookson said: "Like every other cycling fan, I am thrilled the world's biggest bike race is coming back to this country. The huge numbers who turned out to support the 2007 Grand Depart and the London 2012 road races show the passion we have for cycling. I'm sure Yorkshire will give the 2014 Tour de France a welcome which will stand out in the race's rich history."

London mayor Boris Johnson said: "I am thrilled that the Tour de France will return to the UK and no location could be better than London for what will no doubt be an exhilarating climax to the British section of the race."

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minster and Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam, said: "As a Yorkshire MP, I'm delighted that the 2014 Le Tour will begin in our great county. Huge thanks must go to the team that have secured this prestigious event which will bring in major investment for Yorkshire."

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