Yorkshire takes centre stage in Paris

Yorkshire stole the show in Paris today at the official launch of 2014 Tour de France.

As part of the ceremony, Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, formally presented the county to nearly 5,000 journalists from all over the world as proud hosts of the Grand Départ and revealed three new announcements to celebrate the visit of the world’s greatest cycling race.

  • The route of Stage One will start to be permanently waymarked with new signage so cyclists and motorists can follow the routes of the Grand Départ for years to come.
  • Plans are underway to host an official Grand Départ sportive and to attract more international cycle races to Yorkshire.
  • A new version of the official Grand Départ website – www.letouryorkshire.com – has also been launched with interactive maps of the two Stages showing the routes in greater detail.

A delegation from Yorkshire attended the ceremony including some of the county’s cycling heroes – Brian Robinson, Barry Hoban, Dean and Russell Downing – and 10 students from Carr Manor Community School in Leeds who attended as guests of the race organisers the Amaury Sport Organisation, wearing T-shirts spelling out ‘Yorkshire!’. East Coast Trains and Eurostar helped transport the children from Leeds to Paris for a once in a lifetime experience to learn more about one of the biggest sporting events in the world and experience French culture first hand.

Gary Verity said:

It was an honour to be able to represent Yorkshire at the presentation today and to showcase our proud county. Yorkshire’s will be the greatest Grand Départ in the history of the Tour de France. We will raise the bar for all future hosts with our Cultural Festival 100 days before the race, two stunning stages and a legacy that leaves a cycling imprint on the county which lasts for generations. The Grand Départ will put Yorkshire on the map as a destination capable of hosting world class events in a world class location, providing a springboard to greater things. We are excited, we are proud and we are ready to welcome the world.

Gary Verity of Welcome to Yorkshire
Gary Verity of Welcome to Yorkshire

Christian Prudhomme, director of Le Tour, said:

We are excited to take Le Tour back to Britain again. I know the Grand Départ in Yorkshire will be visually stunning and technically challenging and the third stage from the cycling city of Cambridge to the historic heart of London will provide a fitting finale. The British cycling fans are passionate people and I am sure they will line the routes of the three stages cheering the teams and riders all the way from Yorkshire to London, providing an unforgettable start to the 2014 Tour.

Cllr John Weighall and Gary Verity in Middleham
Cllr John Weighall and Gary Verity in Middleham

Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor, said:

The Tour de France Grand Départ will be the biggest event hosted in Leeds and Yorkshire in living memory. You can sense the anticipation level rising by the day as people start planning where they will watch from to be able to say ‘I was there’ at this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

This is an unrivalled opportunity not only to raise the profile of Leeds and Yorkshire to new heights, but also to inspire people of all ages to get on bikes and create a lasting legacy that is fitting for such a sporting phenomenon. This journey has already started and I’m so pleased that a group of young people representing Leeds have been able to share today’s excitement and sample a flavour of what is yet to come.

The first phase of new waymarked signs are being installed by North Yorkshire County Council along the route of Stage One. Approximately 50 will be used to guide people around the route with most of new signs in place by early 2014.

Early plans are being drawn up for a sportive which would see cyclists riding the route of the Grand Départ in the weeks before the professional peloton. There are also plans to use the visit of the Tour de France as a catalyst to attract more international cycle races to Yorkshire as part of the Grand Départ Legacy programme.

Welcome to Yorkshire led the winning bid to bring the Grand Départ to the county. The Grand Départ of the Tour de France takes place in Yorkshire on the weekend of the 5th and the 6th July. The first stage races from Leeds to Harrogate via the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the second stage races from York to Sheffield via Pennine Yorkshire.

Third stage takes place on the 7th July racing from Cambridge to London.

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