WITH only six months to go until the Tour De France comes to York, organisers say their plans are on time and budget.
And tourist bosses have revealed they are already “feeling the excitement and enthusiasm” about the Grand Depart event from visitors and tourism businesses across the city.
Helen Grant, Minister for Sport and Tourism, said plans for the Grand Depart were progressing well. She said: “Hosting the beginning of the biggest bike race in the world will bring a great tourism win for those areas and will further cement Britain’s love for the sport of cycling.
Sir Rodney Walker, chair of the organising body, TDF2014HUB Ltd, said: “A huge amount has been achieved since it was announced that England would host the world’s most prestigious cycle race in 2014. This is thanks to the hard work and collaborative approach of all the partners involved.
“We are on track to deliver a spectacular sporting event in six months that the country can be proud of. However, we are not complacent as there is still a long road ahead and many challenges.”
The 101st running of Le Tour will start in Leeds on July 5 with a 190km stage taking the riders to Harrogate. Stage 2 will start from York with the riders tackling a 200km stage with climbs including Holme Moss on the way to Sheffield.
It is estimated the Grand Depart will boost the economy by £100million and will bring an extra 180,000 visitors to York across the weekend of the race. Broadcast in more than 188 countries worldwide it will provide the city a chance to be seen on a global stage.
Kate McMullen, head of Visit York, said feedback indicated that hotel bookings were steady. “We’re receiving lots of inquiries from visitors who are coming into the Visitor Information Centre looking ahead to find out more about the Tour de France coming to York,” she said.
“Over the coming months, we’ll continue to work closely with our members and partners to ensure that the whole of the city is geared up to offer a fabulous welcome to the anticipated thousands of visitors in July.”
Meanwhile, the Tour de France Team Presentation, showcasing each team, is set to take centre stage at the new first direct arena in Leeds on Thursday July 3, two days before the Grand Départ takes place in Leeds city centre.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, which led the successful bid to bring Le Tour to Yorkshire, said it would be massive for Yorkshire and globally.
Council finalising support for businesses and spectators
City of York Council is urging residents and businesses to take up the opportunity to be involved in the Tour de France.
Coun Sonja Crisp said: “With only six months to go until the world’s biggest annual sporting event comes to York we are busy getting the city ready. In particular, we’re planning further events for businesses in February and March to help them make the most of the opportunities and collaborations up to and during the event – such as a citywide discount scheme on the day to help turn event footfall into retail footfall.
"We’re currently working with partners to finalise plans for the city’s spectator hubs, the details of which will be announced soon and will make viewing the race that much more of an exciting experience.”
For more details, visit york.gov.uk/tourdefrance.
The council has also made a commitment to inspire more people in Yorkshire to cycle more often under the newly-established Cycle Yorkshire banner.
Coun Dave Merrett said: “The Cycle Yorkshire legacy will help us to fulfil our aims in York of increasing cycling by 20 per cent by 2016.
"This will reinforce our position as one of the best cities in the country to cycle and over the next year I hope that this incredible event will inspire even more people in York to cycle more often, whether this is to do the school run, to get to work, to keep fit or just for fun.”