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York and North Yorkshire celebrate Tour de France announcement
10:27am Friday 18th January 2013 in Tour de France
Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme waves the French flag as he arrives for the 2014 Tour de France Yorkshire route announcement, at Leeds Bradford Airport
COMMUNITIES across York and North Yorkshire are celebrating after it was announced they will be right at the heart of the world’s biggest annual sporting event next year.
Plans are now taking shape to host the opening stages of the Tour de France 2014 in our region on July 5 and 6 after organisers confirmed the route it will take when it visits Yorkshire.
The announcement was made yesterday in Paris and Leeds where a celebration of Yorkshire’s successful bid to host the Grand Départ was held outside the Town Hall. The celebration ended with an evening of entertainment, fireworks and well-known faces.
A packed press conference heard how the cycling will be preceded by a 100-day arts festival run with the Arts Council.
The first day of the Tour will start in Leeds and finish in Harrogate, passing through places such as Harewood, Otley, Aysgarth and Ripon.
Day two will set off from York and will pass through Knaresborough before finishing in Sheffield. The tour will then move south, with day three of the Tour finishing in London.
Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France director, said: “When we build the route of Le Tour, we look at both sporting aspects and the beauty of the route. I knew Yorkshire was a nice region but I didn’t imagine it corresponded so well to what we need for a perfect Grand Départ.
“We have encountered a phenomenal desire to welcome the Tour de France and no doubt that popular acclaim will be particularly in evidence over there.”
In York, the 198 riders are expected to tour the city centre at a warm-up speed before racing in earnest from the “actual start”, expected to be somewhere in the suburbs.
York Central MP Hugh Bayley said: “This will showcase the city to the world. Roughly 20 per cent of journeys in York are carried out by bicycle, which is hugely over the national average. Cycling is already big in York and I hope the race will give us an opportunity to encourage more people to cycle, because it reduces traffic congestion, is good for the environment and is good for people’s health.”
Villages along the A59 between York and Knaresborough and in the Yorkshire Dales will also have their day as the riders pass through at breakneck speed.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “The routes of the Grand Départ will showcase some of Yorkshire’s iconic cycling climbs and the county’s stunning land and cityscapes.
“The British public’s response since the news broke that the 2014 Grand Depart would be hosted inYorkshire has been overwhelming.”
North Yorkshire County Council leader John Weighell said: “The Tour de France brings enormous international exposure and interest in its wake, and the inclusion of Yorkshire can only be excellent news for the economy of North Yorkshire, and its hugely important tourism businesses.”
North Yorkshire Police said: “We will build on the experience of last year’s successful Olympic Torch Relay, working closely with the organisers, partner agencies and the other police forces in the region, to ensure that the race stages pass off smoothly and safely.”
At yesterday’s press conference in Leeds, Mr Prudhomme wished British superstar Mark Cavendish good luck in winning the first stage in Harrogate and “pleasing his mum”.
Sprint star Cavendish hails from the Isle of Man, but his mother lives in the North Yorkshire spa town.