A successful staging of the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France in Leeds will herald the start of a blossoming relationship that could see the race or similar sporting events come back to Yorkshire, organisers say.
Tour director Christian Prudhomme would be open to a return to the county in future years should the two stages to be held on July 5 and 6 next summer proceed as planned.
Success for Prudhomme and Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) is not based on finances, but on the number of people who line the route.
Welcome To Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, who brokered the deal with Prudhomme and ASO, anticipates that three million people will watch the action from Leeds to Harrogate on July 5 and York to Sheffield the following day.
Securing another high-profile Grand Depart is an option for Yorkshire, but just as likely would be the county hosting a stage of the race in the future.
Mr Prudhomme said: “Why not? It (the relationship) begins now. I can’t say when it would be because one year ago we were talking about 2016 for the Tour being in Yorkshire or Scotland. We are working on three editions of the Tour in a row. After that – who knows?
“The world is changing. When Gary and his team came over the first time, British cycling champions weren’t as they are now, stars, winning everything and everywhere.”
ASO also stage the Vuelta Espana, which is one of three grand tours alongside the Tour de France.
Prudhomme also spoke yesterday morning in response to Lance Armstrong’s televised confession that the American used performance-enhancing drugs during all seven of his Tour de France victories.
Prudhomme said: “Six months ago nobody could imagine he [Armstrong] would say ‘I dope’, so it’s a big story.
“But [(the confession] is not enough. In the USADA report they said there was a system.
“We have to understand the system in order for it to be impossible for there to be the same systems in the future.”