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Leeds getting ready for global gaze of Le Tour

Riders climb towards Vizzavona pass during the second stage of the Tour de France in 2013. Picture: AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani

Riders climb towards Vizzavona pass during the second stage of the Tour de France in 2013. Picture: AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani

As the eyes of the world prepare to gaze upon Leeds this summer, preparations are being made for 2,000 journalists from all over the world to descend on the city.

Leeds’ status as the host for the start of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart is seeing detailed plans drawn up by Leeds City Council chiefs, with the latest report going before an authority scrutiny board today.

The document reveals arrangements are now in place to host the watching world’s media on MEPC land at Wellington Place for the July 5 and 6 races, while five grandstands are to be erected on The Headrow for the start of stage one.

Spectator hubs where visitors can view the passing race on big screens will be set up at Scott Hall Playing Fields, Harewood House and in Otley, although the council is still to find out if Government will help fund them.

An excitable crowd is expected to line the length of the 190km route of stage one from Leeds to Harrogate on July 5, with 27,000 people anticipated to gather roadside along the first 1.5km of the route alone.

Council leader Coun Keith Wakefield said: “The exciting plans around the Tour de France Grand Depart in Leeds are progressing well and everything remains on course and on budget.”

It is expected that more will emerge as to whether the council will stick to its own £3.6m forecast for the event once its contracts for services, which are all out to tender, are secured.

The report also talks of a site visit made to Leeds in mid-January, which saw Tour organisers Amaury Sport Organisation look into the possibility of a “parade from the university to the arena”.

Resources for Leeds schools to make the most of the event have also now been sent across the city, with a programme of 30 projects based around teaching, learning, celebration and legacy developed to include a mini Tour de France for all primary schools at Temple Newsam Park in the coming months.

The report comes as the Government launches a consultation over its plans to temporarily allow more riders on to the country’s highways than the law currently permits to allow the race to go ahead. Responses should be emailed to joe.finlay@dft.gsi.gov.uk before March 27.

Meanwhile a free Tour telephone line, providing key information around the Yorkshire Grand Depart, has been set up by telecoms firm NGC Networks on behalf of tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire.

Tourism chief Gary Verity said: “The information line will be vital for people who don’t have access to the internet.”

The 0845 5072014 hotline will give stage one and two advice around the routes, volunteering, where to stay, road closures and parking. Visit www.letouryorkshire.com for information.

 

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