Leeds has won the race to host the opening stages of the Tour de France in 2014, race organisers confirmed today.
After a hard-fought bid by Welcome to Yorkshire, it has now been confirmed that Leeds will be the official host city for the opening stages of the world’s biggest annual sporting event.
Leeds City Council leader Keith Wakefield said: “We are honoured that Leeds has been chosen to be the host city of the 2014 Grand Départ
“Leeds has a proud racing and riding history so it will be wonderful to welcome the biggest cycle race of them all to the heart of our vibrant city centre, inspire a new generation of Yorkshire cyclists to compete on the world stage and leave a lasting cycling legacy for the city.”
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme added: “Since the resounding success of the Grand Départ in London in 2007, we were very keen to return to the United Kingdom.
“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.”
Hosting the first two stages of the race is expected to generate more than £100m for the Yorkshire economy – and attract over one million spectators.
York, Scarborough and Sheffield are due to feature on the race route which is likely to incorporate gruelling hill climbs in the Yorkshire Dales and across the North York Moors.
Julian Smith, MP for Skipton and Ripon, said: “I am delighted by the news that Yorkshire will be host to the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in 2014. This will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase Yorkshire to the world, bringing yet another world class sporting event to the UK.
“With a global audience of over two billion people watching the Tour de France every year, the backdrop is vital. In Yorkshire you could not ask for more. Some of the most iconic roads and scenery in the country, if not the world are here.”