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Could the Tour de France be coming to Yorkshire?
By Harry West -Yorkshire Post
Published on Tuesday 3 July 2012 14:30

"Yorkshire could host the opening stages of the Tour de France as early as 2014. Tourism board Welcome to Yorkshire had already made an official bid to hold the Grand Depart in 2016, but have since declared their willingness to stage the event at an earlier date.

It is rumoured that 2014 has become available because of the withdrawal of bids from Barcelona and Florence, due to the economic problems in Spain and Italy.

Welcome to Yorkshire spokesman Andrew Denton explained that following the county’s initial bid for the 2016 race, Yorkshire’s plans had gained momentum: “We wanted to host one major event and we wanted to do a proper job. The police and the local authorities came forward to show their support and things escalated a bit quicker than we thought.”

Having visited race organisers Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) in Liege over the weekend for the start of this year’s race, Denton added: “I don’t want to say too much at this time but it was a positive meeting. We were warmly received, it was great to meet them and great to see how the Grand Depart was staged.

“Yorkshire’s bid is logistically strong, it has the support of the stars of British cycling past and present and it will be race ready from 2014.

“We had some very positive and encouraging conversations over the weekend in Liege and it was great to see one of our bid supporters Mark Cavendish win on Monday.

“It would be an honour to host the Tour de France in Yorkshire and we are working extremely hard on our bid to make that happen.”

ASO also visited the White Rose county in May, and Denton was equally enthusiastic about the success of that visit, saying: “The sun was shining and we were able to show them around Yorkshire.

“We showed them the contrasts between the dales and the moors, and the moors and the coast. They were impressed with what Yorkshire had to offer and our momentum is building.”

Denton went on to outline the positive effect bringing the Tour to Yorkshire could have on the county.

“The Yorkshire people are passionate about sport,” he said. “The Tour de France is free, and just like with the Olympic torch you can just turn up and cheer them on.

“I was in London for the start of the 2007 race and it was like the Jubilee and a sporting event rolled into one.”

Bringing the Grand Depart to Yorkshire would also provide a massive boost to the economy, as Mr Denton explained: “Everyone for the Tour arrives 10 days before the start, and they take up 5,000 beds per night. Obviously there will be fans coming to watch as well.

“In London in 2007 they think it added £88m to the economy, and we think we could potentially double that. We’ve seen the appetite for the Olympic torch – 1.2 million came out for that – and we think there could be over two million supporting the Tour de France.”

Scotland are also looking to host the Grand Depart in the future, as officials from British Cycling, UK Sport and EventScotland travelled to Belgium this week for discussions with ASO.

However, logistical issues mean that the success of that bid remains in doubt. EventScotland international events director Stuart Turner said: “We’ve been talking to the ASO for a good couple of years and our sales pitch hinges around Edinburgh being probably the most fantastic place that they could ever do a Grand Depart.

“But perhaps in an ideal world it is a little bit further away from France than they would like.

“If Edinburgh was where London is we’d probably have shaken hands on a deal already. They absolutely loved Edinburgh.

“The logistics of getting back from Edinburgh to France is the bit we need"

Would be great news for Yorkshire and particularly for Leeds as the event would start in the city.

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I agree it would certainly be great news for Yorkshire to host the Tour de France at possibly short notice considering it's such a high profile event and surely Yorkshire would stand a good chance of winning considering it has such attractive countryside with of course major cities having plenty of amenities and good transport links. I wonder if flights could be chartered to Leeds Bradford from France or even a Eurostar train going from Paris Gare d' Nord direct to Leeds especially for the start of the Tour?
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