Tourism officials in Yorkshire will in May this year welcome a delegation from Tour de France organisers ASO as the region bids to host the Grand Départ of cycling’s biggest race in 2016.
Welcome to Yorkshire will host the ASO delegation for two days, reports the York Press, showing them hotels that would be used, the planned route of the opening stages of the race, and the guests will also attend a dinner in their honour.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, commented: “This is big news for Yorkshire. We look forward to showing ASO that Yorkshire is passionate about hosting the race and giving them the best overseas leg in Tour de France history.
“If we get this right as a county, with everyone working together pooling resources and expertise, this will be Yorkshire’s Commonwealth Games moment.
“It would have a similar impact on the county as the Games did in Manchester, showcasing Yorkshire to the world and putting it on the map as a dynamic place to visit, live and do business.”
The proposed route to be covered during the two days’ racing would take in the cities of Leeds, York, Hull and Sheffield, plus the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors and the coast surrounding Scarborough.
The tourist authority is said to be putting together a technical team to help support the bid, which also has the backing of World Champion Mark Cavendish, whose mother’s family comes from Harrogate, as well as well as triathlon’s Brownlee brothers, Jonathan and Alistair.
The latter said: “As proud Yorkshiremen we are delighted to back the bid to bring the Tour de France to Yorkshire. We spend a lot of time training in our home county and know what a beautiful, challenging and inspiring landscape it is to compete in and we are sure the peloton would find it no different.”
The Tour de France has paid three visits to the UK, starting here in 2007 when London staged the Grand Départ, with massive crowds watching Fabian Cancellara win the Prologue. The following day, Australia’s Robbie McEwen won in Canterbury.
Previous visits saw Holland’s Henk Poppe win stage in 1974 that began and ended in Plymouth, while in 1994, Spain’s Francisco Cabello took Stage 4 from Dover to Brighton, with the Italian Nicola Minali winning Stage 5 in Portsmouth.
The Tour de France first held its Grand Départ outside France in 1954 when it began in The Netherlands in 1954, and now does so every two or three years, with a queue of cities and regions throughout Europe and further afiled vying for a chance to give their tourist profile a boost.
Scotland, like Yorkshire, also has ambitions of hosting the Grand Départ, while other places hoping to do so in the coming years include Barcelona, Florence, Krakow and Qatar.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.