The Grand Départ
Legions of cycling fans in Yorkshire still can’t quite believe that the greatest cycling race in the world, the Tour de France, is just about here – and by that we do mean right here, on your doorstep…
In just a few days time the eyes of the world will be on Yorkshire when the Tour de France starts its 3,500km odyssey for 2014.
The launch – or to be more specific, the Grand Départ – of the Tour takes place over the weekend of 5 – 6 July. Stage One races from Leeds to Harrogate via the Yorkshire Dales National Park, while Stage Two is from York to Sheffield via the Pennines and the Peak District National Park.
It was December 2012 when Welcome to Yorkshire, the county’s official tourist organisation, announced it had been successful in bringing this wonderful event back to the UK, beating off opposition from the rest of Europe. A huge amount of work has since gone on behind the scenes to ensure Yorkshire is ready to welcome both the many teams taking part in Le Tour and the thousands of fans and journalists who make up its entourage.
“We are excited to take Le Tour back to Britain again”
Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France Director, said Yorkshire’s successful bid had been due in no small part to the success of the preceding summer’s London Olympics and Bradley Wiggins’ triumph in the Tour de France.
“We are excited to take Le Tour back to Britain again,” he added. “I know the Grand Départ in Yorkshire will be visually stunning and technically challenging. The British cycling fans are passionate people and I am sure they will line the routes of the three stages cheering the teams and riders all the way from Yorkshire to London, providing an unforgettable start to the 2014 Tour.”
Everywhere you look there are visual clues about what’s coming, with yellow very much the colour of the day, ranging from striking signs that will be permanent reminders of Le Tour, to the smallest of window displays, as local businesses and homes show their support.
And, of course, the benefits in terms of tourism that this will come to the area cannot be overstated – it’s been estimated that the economic value of the event for Yorkshire will be in the region of £100 million.
John Weighell, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said: “Millions of people around the world will see the magnificent landscape of North Yorkshire on their television screens, and the spin-off for our regional economy – not just along the route of the race, but right across North Yorkshire and indeed across Yorkshire as a whole – will be huge.”