sport

Yorkshire to host Tour start

Yorkshire will host the start of the 2014 Tour de France, it was announced on Friday morning.

The Grand Depart will return to Britain for the first time since 2007, when one million people lined the streets of London for the opening prologue.

Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation selected Yorkshire ahead of a separate British-wide bid with an Edinburgh start, but that remains in the running for a future date.

The 100th edition of the Tour begins in Corsica on June 29, 2013.

Leeds and then London will host the race before it heads for France, with full route details to be revealed next month.

A statement from ASO read: "The organisers of the Tour de France are pleased to announce that the Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2014 will take place in the United Kingdom in the county of Yorkshire, before heading to London for a stage finish.

"After an outstanding 2012 for British cycling, marked by the historical victory of Bradley Wiggins on the Tour de France, the United Kingdom will again hold pride of place in 2014.

"The Grand Depart of the 101st edition of the Tour will take place on July 5 in Leeds in the county of Yorkshire.

"Seven years after the Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2007 and two years after the latest Olympic Games, London will host the last stage on British soil, before the pack returns to mainland Europe.

"The details of this Grand Depart and the stages it will include will be revealed at a press conference that will take place on Thursday January 17, 2013, in two phases, in both Leeds and Paris."

Two days of racing will take place of Yorkshire will take place on July 5 and 6, 2014.

The Yorkshire bid had the support of Mark Cavendish, Ben Swift, double Olympic track champion Ed Clancy and Brian Robinson, the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France in 1958.

Barry Hoban, winner of eight stages of the Tour and Malcolm Elliott, the first British rider to win a points jersey in a Grand Tour, also backed the bid.

Welcome to Yorkshire were behind the bid.

Its chief executive Gary Verity said: "Today is a proud day for everyone involved in the bid and the county as a whole.

"We are honoured that the race organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), have selected Yorkshire to be the host location of the 2014 Grand Depart.

"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 Depart raises the bar in terms of expectations for all future hosts to come."

Swift, from Rotherham, who rode in the 2011 Tour, wrote on Twitter: "Now that is some exciting news. Le Tour is coming to Yorkshire."

Tour director Christian Prudhomme praised the "outstanding beauty" and varied terrain of Yorkshire.

He said: "Since the resounding success of the Grand Depart 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 Depart of the Tour de France 2014."

British Cycling president Brian Cookson said: "Like every other cycling fan, I am thrilled the world's biggest bike race is coming back to this country.

"The huge numbers who turned out to support the 2007 Grand Depart and the London 2012 road races show the passion we have for cycling.

"I'm sure Yorkshire will give the 2014 Tour de France a welcome which will stand out in the race's rich history."

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "I am thrilled that the Tour de France will return to the UK and no location could be better than London for what will no doubt be an exhilarating climax to the British section of the race.

"This year we proved our expertise not just in hosting world class sporting events, but in winning them too, and I am sure Bradley Wiggins and several of his compatriots will be hugely excited at the prospect of the Tour returning to their home streets."

The City of Edinburgh council approved the Tour bid this week, but now Scotland will have to wait to play host to the biggest annual sporting event, with a possible date of 2017.

An EventScotland spokesman said: "It is disappointing that we have been unsuccessful for the 2014 Grand Depart but it is great news that the Tour is returning in 2014 following British cycling success this year.

"Our initial plans had highlighted 2017 as our preferred date and we have had a positive indication from ASO that the year is still a possibility.

"We have developed a great British bid with strong partners, which would deliver significant benefits to the whole country and we will continue our positive dialogue with ASO in the new year and look at our next steps."