By Gregor Brown
The 2015 Tour de France will start abroad in Utrecht, in The Netherlands, the city announced on its Twitter website. Tour boss, Christian Prudhomme also confirmed the news to TV broadcaster, NOS.
"The start of the Tour de France in Utrecht is good for the Netherlands, good for the city and the region, and good for sport. It is a fantastic party," Mayor Aleid Wolfsen said, according to Dutch website NU.
"The fact that the Tour is coming to Utrecht is a culmination of everyone's efforts. Businesses made a significant financial contribution, which is unique, especially in these economic times."
Organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) will officially unveil the Grand Départ at home in Paris and in Utrecht on November 28. It will be the sixth time the French Grand Tour has started in The Netherlands, beginning with Amsterdam in 1954. Most recently, it took off from Rotterdam in 2010, when Sky debuted in the Tour. Scheveningen (1973), Leiden (1978) and Den Bosch (1996) also hosted the start.
The Tour de France will start in Yorkshire next year. It is the Tour's 21st foreign start, a history which began down the road from Utrecht in Amsterdam in 1954. The university city with a population of 316,448 sits just indland from Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
Utrecht has been working for years to host the Tour's Grand Départ, which will consist of around three days of build-up and another to two to three stages in the area. In 2010, it appeared close with Düsseldorf but ASO ultimately decided on Rotterdam. Fabian Cancellara (CSC) won the opening prologue in the city and after the start in Rotterdam, Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) won the sprint in Brussels the next day.
In 2010, however, Utrecht welcomed the Giro d'Italia. Its second stage travelled from Amsterdam to Utrecht, where Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) won.
Its candidacy appeared in danger with the team Rabobank's doping revelations over the past year. After 17 years, the Dutch bank pulled the plug on its team sponsorship and according to NOS, the Utrecht had its doubts.
Wolfsen and his team, however, were able to put together €10m (£8.33). They raised €5m to match the city's contribution to the Tour's Grand Départ.
Yorkshire put together a similar bid for the 2014 start. Andrew Denton, Head of Media for Yorkshire's Grand Départ told Cycling Weekly at the time that they believe the economic impact is worth 10 times the amount, or £100m.
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