YORKSHIRE was celebrating last night after winning its bid to host the opening stage of the Tour de France in 2014.
And there could be a huge spin-off for York with an estimated boost to the city’s economy of more than £70 million.
Organisers announced the county would host the Grand Départ, which takes the event outside France for the opening few days of racing every second year.
Yorkshire will host the race on July 5 and 6 before the Tour moves south for a third stage in southern England, then transfers to northern France. The Tour is the world’s biggest annual sporting event.
Leeds will be the host city, and Welcome To Yorkshire has previously said the 180-kilometre per day route will also take in York, Scarborough and the North York Moors, although the exact route is still to be announced.
City of York Council said in July, when it approved investing £50,000 in the bid, that it could boost York’s economy by £73 million, based on an analysis of the impact on London in 2007.
When the Grand Départ was held in London and Kent in 2007, it was estimated to have brought £88 million to south-east England and generated £35 million of media coverage.
The iconic image of York Minster has been used in the marketing of the bid and will appear throughout the Grand Départ media coverage. Two billion spectators will also watch the event worldwide. More than two million spectators watched from the sidelines in 2007.
The council also expects the teams and administration associated with the tour to boost hotels, restaurants and shops from several days before racing begins.
The event provides a great opportunity to promote cycling and sport to residents and showcase other cycling routes in the area, it said.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome To Yorkshire, said: “It will mean less than two years after hosting the Olympics the British public can look forward to another of the world’s biggest sporting events coming to the country, and I am in no doubt they will come to Yorkshire in their millions, lining the length and breadth of the route to cheer on the champions of world cycling and our home-grown British heroes.”
“Yorkshire is a passionate county of proud people and I am sure they will guarantee that their Grand Départ raises the bar in terms of expectations for all future hosts to come.”
The county will host the first two days racing on July 5 and 6 before the Tour moves south for a third stage in southern England, with a finish in London.
Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France director, said: “Since the resounding success of the Grand Départ in London in 2007, we were very keen to return to the United Kingdom.
"Bradley Wiggins’ historical victory last July and the enormous crowds that followed the cycling events in the streets of London during the Olympic Games encouraged us to go back earlier than we had initially planned.
"Yorkshire is a region of outstanding beauty, with breathtaking landscapes whose terrains offer both sprinters and attackers the opportunity to express themselves. We have encountered a phenomenal desire from the Yorkshire team to welcome the Tour de France and have no doubt that passion and support will be particularly evident for the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014.”