‘Welcome to Yorkshire,’ the tourist board and organisation behind the region’s bid to host the Grand Depart of the Tour de France, is hoping to build momentum behind its bid with a number of legacy projects planned across the four counties.
Yorkshire is currently bidding to host the start of the race as early as 2014 and in doing so is coming head to head with a rival bid from Scotland.
Both bids would see the Tour return to the UK for at least three days, finishing with a stage along the South coast towards Kent.
British Cycling has actively backed the Scottish bid, which could take in parts of England, Scotland and Wales. Yorkshire has backed its bid with a high-profile advertising campaign in the UK and in France, and former British pro Malcolm Elliott recently came on board as a bid ambassador.
Although he remained tight-lipped about the details of the bid, Gary Verity, CEO of ‘Welcome to Yorkshire,’ explained he also had planned a ten-year programme of investment for the region.
“It’s not just about a more cycling friendly environment,” he said, “it’s making sure that we go on from where we are now in terms of cycling. Cycling is very big in Yorkshire, but we could do a lot more.”
Although a ‘Cycling and Arts’ festival is planned for the months leading up to the Tour’s arrival, should the bid be successful of course, Verity hopes the Tour will be a catalyst for long-term positive change.
“We have to make sure we don’t just do something for a year, we have a ten year programme to make sure we have real legacy and infrastructure benefits.”
One of those projects is a ‘bike bank’ for the region’s children which would work in a similar way to a library, allowing children to borrow bikes.
“That would mean that every child in Yorkshire could have access to a bike,” Verity added. “Something like that could be really exciting and we’d be a pioneer for that across the UK. I think that would be a great achievement, and it would be getting kids interested in cycling.”
Berlin, Barcelona and Italy are also understood to be bidding for the 2014 Grand Depart. Tour organiser ASO is expected to come to a decision on the bids in the coming months, with an announcement expected in early 2013.
“To have approximately 400km of Yorkshire feature would be fantastic. We’ve given them a number of scenarios and suggestions. The first thing is for them to choose Yorkshire and then they can choose the routes that would work for them.”