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Bid backed to bring Tour back to UK
Bradley Wiggins's success in the Tour de France provides the perfect springboard for bringing the event back to the UK, a British cycling legend said.
Brian Robinson, 81, - who was the first British rider to win a stage of the Tour in 1958 - is backing an audacious bid to bring the famous race to Yorkshire.
The Yorkshire bid is at an advanced stage and a delegation is in Paris again this weekend to push the plan.
If it was successful it would mean the county hosting the first two stages of the Tour followed by a third stage in an as yet undisclosed city in the south of England.
The Yorkshire stages would take place across various parts of the county, including hill sections to rival some of the Alpine stages, those behind the campaign said.
Speaking at his home in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, Mr Robinson said securing the Tour for his home county would be the "icing on the cake" for British cycling.
He said it would be "another dream come true".
"Bradley's done us a world of good by putting us right at the top of the tree," said the pensioner, who still cycles around the Pennines.
"Here in Yorkshire we're all ready to go - the money's in place, the structure's in place, the countryside's always been there - as good as it gets anywhere.
"We can go anytime, it's just a case of getting the guys over there to say 'yes, we'll come'."
And Mr Robinson said he believes the enormous crowds which came out to watch the Olympic flame when it visited Yorkshire showed what the public reaction to the Tour might be.
"If you take the people who watched the Olympic torch in Yorkshire, that was great and I'm sure a thing like the Tour de France will bring out twice as many," he said.
"So we're in good shape."
Welcome to Yorkshire, the tourism agency that is leading the bid, estimates 1.2 million people watched the torch in the county and believes the Tour could generate crowds topping two million.
It expects the event to generate up to £300 million.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "Yorkshire is race ready to host Le Tour tomorrow.
"We have over 150,000 pledges of support from the public backing our bid, we have the landscape, the people, the passion and the resources behind us to host a world class Grand Depart.
"Yorkshire is the heartland of cycling in this country. We have produced champions like Brian Robinson, Barry Hoban and Malcolm Elliott and we want to bring Le Tour to the county to pay tribute to those early pioneers of English cycling success and to inspire a new generation of champions to follow in their footsteps.
"The appetite for the world's greatest annual sporting event to return to England is immense following our success in this year's Tour - Yorkshire is ready and waiting to welcome the world."
The Tour last visited the UK in 2007 when stages took place in London and Kent.
Yorkshire's original plan was to bid for the Grand Depart in 2016 but economic problems in other European countries could mean it is offered the event as early as 2014.
The proposal would be for two days of racing, covering 185km a day, across Yorkshire. The agreement would include hosting a third day's racing in southern England.
Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, said: "Leeds is committed to delivering the best international Grand Depart in Le Tour's history.
"Everything will be within walking or cycling distance making it one of the greenest Grand Departs ever and the city would build a festival of celebrations around the Tour's arrival and ensure a lasting legacy for cyclists in the city."