Boss of tourism agency that led successful Grand Depart bid reacts to criticism

Welcome to Yorkshire insists it will work alongside other organisations to ensure it complies with the requirements stipulated to secure £10 million in funding for the staging of next year's Grand Depart of the Tour de France, secured in principle from Culture Secretary Maria Miller.

Ms Miller made the pledge yesterday after receiving a delegation of MPs from North Yorkshire, just 24 hours after one of her colleagues at the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), Sports Minister Hugh Robertson, had been highly critical of the organisers of the Grand Depart in a letter sent to the Chief Executive of Leeds City Council.

In a statement sent to road.cc this afternoon, Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "'A UK wide strategic delivery group for the Grand Depart was a key component of Welcome to Yorkshire's original business plan to UK Sport.

"As the only agency in the UK with the contract to deliver the Grand Depart of the Tour de France Welcome to Yorkshire will, as it originally stated, form and chair that group and will invite representatives from UK Sport and DCMS to be a part of that.

"Many people and organisations with experience of being involved with the Olympics will be on that group and we will work with ASO, the premiere cycling event organisers in the world, to ensure we host both a world class cycle race and also maximise the benefits that surround it in terms of economic impact, health, education legacy and tourism. We are confident we have the expertise to do that and deliver on our promise to host the Grandest Grand Depart."

The DCMS has not said what criteria it will use to judge that the make-up of the strategic delivery group is acceptable or whether it will require approval of the group's membershiip and business plan before releasing the funds, while Mr Verity is undeniably correct that Welcome to Yorkshire is the agency with the contract the Government holds the purse strings.

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.