Identity crisis for Yorkshire Grand Depart

Map, Tour de France 2014 Grand Depart launch

England rather than Yorkshire may claim naming rights to next year's Tour de France Grand Depart, according to a story in Saturday's Yorkshire Post.

Welcome to Yorkshire managed to lure Tour organisers ASO to the Dales and Pennines for next year's opening two stages and have since embarked on a series of proposed events to mark the big weekend next July.

But with the third stage commencing in Cambridge before the peloton makes its way south to Central London, Visit England, the nation's tourist board, has been consulted to market the event with a focus on the whole country's input.

Documents obtained last week under a freedom of information request detail how the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) wish to bill the opening three stages of the 101st Tour as "England's Grand Depart".

UK Sport expressed their concerns with Welcome to Yorkshire's handling of funding and promoting the event, noting that their overseeing of the race is a "very high risk project" with "significant financial and logistical challenges".

Despite being able to offer terrain over the opening weekend to spark an explosive start to Chris Froome's defence of the Tour, the relationship between the county's project managers and government agencies has been fractious.

DCMS, UK Sport and VisitBritain, as well as British Cycling, placed their weight behind a bid from Edinburgh to host the Grand Depart as opposed to supporting Yorkshire's application.

With tensions having risen since last December's unveiling of Yorkshire as the host, it was revealed last month that Yorkshire councils will provide £11m of funding and the Treasury £10m.

A DCMS spokesman said: "We are completely committed to helping make the Tour De France 2014 Grand Départ in Yorkshire and the Cambridge to London stage a great success, and are contributing up to £10m of exchequer funding to make that happen.

"We are working in close collaboration with all the key stakeholders including Welcome to Yorkshire and VisitEngland to maximise the benefits of hosting the start of the world's biggest cycle race."

The Tour begins in Leeds on Saturday July 5, with stage one finishing in Harrogate. Stage two runs from York to Sheffield before stage 3 departs from Cambridge and concludes in London.

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