THE Government’s decision to commit millions of pounds to support the Tour de France in Yorkshire was a “no-brainer”, one of the event’s organisers has claimed.
Gary Verity, the chief executive of tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire, insisted the plans to host the race’s ‘Grand Départ’ next summer had the full support of the Prime Minister despite major concerns being raised over its staging.
The future of the event, which is expected to provide a huge boost to Yorkshire’s economy, was thrown into doubt when organisers’ initial bid for public funding was rejected by quango UK Sport.
But Yorkshire MPs were claiming a major victory after it was revealed the Treasury had stepped in at the 11th hour and set aside up to £10m to help stage the event.
Mr Verity, whose organisation is responsible for delivering the three stages of the Tour de France held in the UK, said he was not worried about securing the funding.
He said: “It was made clear to me when I was at the Cabinet meeting in Leeds that this is something the Government wants to get behind.
“It is a no-brainer. This is the biggest sporting event in the world every year and the biggest event in the UK since the Olympics. It is very important that we as a nation support that.
“David Cameron saw that and so did the Deputy Prime Minister. With the two of them supporting it, it was always going to happen.”
Mr Verity spoke after the Y 13 tourism conference held in Leeds, where Welcome to Yorkshire unveiled a number of marketing initiatives to promote the region in the coming months.
Jean-Etienne Amaury, president of race organiser, ASO, said preparations looked “fantastic so far”. He said: “We expect great enthusiasm here in Yorkshire for the Tour de France.”