Yorkshire victorious in bid for 2014 Tour de France Grand Départ
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Yorkshire victorious in bid for 2014 Tour de France Grand Départ

by Shane Stokes at 6:03 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Race will return to Britain in nineteen months

Tour de FranceAfter a long campaign which also saw Edinburgh, Florence, Barcelona and Lille pushing for selection, Yorkshire is celebrating after it was selected as the venue for the start of the 2014 Tour de France.

Tour organisers ASO have today confirmed that the British county has been awarded the Grand Départ, and that the biggest event in cycling will start in Leeds on July 5th 2014.

It will take place seven years after a highly successful Grand Départ in London and two years after Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the race.

Interest in cycling is at an all time high in Britain, not least because of Wiggins’ success this year. In addition to the Tour, he also won Olympic gold, took races such as Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné. His team-mate Chris Froome was second in the Tour and third in the Olympics, while their Sky Procycling team-mate Mark Cavendish again clocked up multiple sprint wins, including three stages of the Tour de France.

British riders have also been successful in other wings of the sport, with Lizzie Armitstead netting second to Marianne Vos in the Olympic road race and the country’s track riders taking multiple victories in the Olympic Games and world championships.

“Since the resounding success of the Grand Départ in London in 2007, we were very keen to return to the United Kingdom,” said Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme. “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.”

Full details of the stages will be unveiled at a press conference taking place in both Leeds and Paris on Thursday 17th January 2013. However it is known that Yorkshire will host the race on July 5th and 6th, while on the 7th the race will transfer south and dispute a stage in southern England and a finish in London. Leeds has been named as the host city of the Grand Départ.

The news of Yorkshire’s success comes despite the organisers of the bid not engaging with British Cycling during its campaign.

“We have not been involved [with the Yorkshire bid], simply because they didn’t ask us,” British Cycling president Brian Cookson said at October’s presentation of the 2013 Tour, according to Scotland on Sunday. “You would normally expect there to be a more meaningful dialogue with a possible host city or area than we have had with Yorkshire. We have asked.”

Cycle sport and membership director at British Cycling, Jonny Clay, confirmed to Sky Sports that the body had made a choice with regards what bid to back.

“It's kind of daft to have two bids going in for the same years,” he said. “All we could really go was encourage Yorkshire to be part of a Scottish start.

However despite British Cycling backing the Edinburgh campaign, the Yorkshire push has won out instead.

It was boosted by a public campaign to ‘Back le Bid,’ which resulted in over 170,000 pledges of support to bring the Tour de France to Yorkshire. There was also backing from a number of high profile individuals, including the French President François Hollande, and former Tour legends from Yorkshire such as Brian Robinson, the first British ride to win a stage of the Tour, eight-time stage winner Barry Hoban and Malcolm Elliott, the points jersey winner in the Vuelta a España.

Current pro riders such as Mark Cavendish, Team Sky’s Ben Swift and Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy also threw their weight behind the bid and this plus the other factors helped convince ASO that it was the best option for the 2014 race start.

“Today is a proud day for everyone involved in the bid and the county as a whole,” said Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, which was the agency behind the county’s bid. “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. 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.”


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