Yorkshire will host the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France, the race’s organiser Amaury Sport Organisation confirmed on Friday morning.
Leeds will host the Grand Depart on July 5, with the following day’s road stage also in Yorkshire on July 6. The race then travels south for a third British stage on July 7, finishing in London.
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Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France director, said that the Yorkshire bid had been successful due to a number of factors, including the local scenery and recent British cycling success.
“Since the resounding success of the Grand Départ in London in 2007, we were very keen to return to the United Kingdom,” said 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.”
Sky rider Ben Swift hails from Rotherham and backed the Yorkshire bid from the outset, he said: “I’m over the moon that the world’s biggest bike race is coming to Yorkshire, and until the ‘Back le Bid’ initiative was launched, I never dreamed the Tour would ever start in my home county.
“It’s going to be amazing for the region, a massive honour, and I’m sure everyone in Britain is going to embrace this now.”
Welcome to Yorkshire had been behind the bid to bring the race to the region. The organisation’s chief executive, Gary Verity said: “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, and 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.
“Yorkshire is a passionate county of proud people and I am sure they will guarantee that their Grand Départ raises the bar in terms of expectations for all future hosts to come.”
British Cycling president Brian Cookson added his comment: “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.”
Further details of the opening stages of the 2014 Tour will be revealed in a press conference taking place in both Leeds and Paris on Thursday, January 17.