Bid team hail Tour de France impact on Yorkshire economy

HOSTING the Grand Départ of the 2014 Tour de France in Yorkshire will leave an economic legacy of at least £100m and a sporting legacy for more than a decade.

That was the view of those behind the successful bid to bring the first two stages of next year’s elite cycling event to the region.

Further details of the two Yorkshire stages were given after the routes were revealed by TheBusinessDesk.com yesterday.

Speaking at a packed press conference held at Leeds Town Hall, Gary Verity, chief executive of tourism organisation Welcome to Yorkshire, said bringing the Tour de France to the region would put Yorkshire on the international cycling map.

He said a key part of the region’s bid, which beat rival efforts from locations including Scotland, was its legacy aspect.

This includes promoting cycling to youngsters and helping to introduce bike banks as part of a push to cut traffic congestion and boost healthy living.

“Our aim is that 10 years after the Tour first visits Yorkshire, the county is still reaping the benefits of that visit,” he said.

Mr Verity also revealed plans for a 100 day arts festival to take place around the Grand Départ on July 5 and 6 next year.

And he said the economic legacy for the region was another major factor, predicting that despite the stages costing around £10m to be staged, £90m could be generated from the event for the economy as restaurants, hotels and businesses all benefit from the races.

Toby Underwood of PwC, who helped bring the bid to Yorkshire and will work to promote the economic legacy of the Tour to the region, said with the added media coverage it could be worth a total of £120m to the economy.

Revealing further details of the two stage’s route, Mr Verity, who had earlier attended a launch event for the Grand Depart in Paris, predicted three million people could turn out to watch the races.

He described the theme of the 190km (118 mile) first stage, which starts in Leeds before heading into the Yorkshire Dales and finishing in Harrogate, as ‘seven castles and seven abbeys’, given the array of historical sites the competitors will pass.

The second stage is themed ‘Past, present and future’, as it starts in the historic city of York and heads west through West Yorkshire before finishing in Sheffield some 200km (124) miles later.

Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France Director, said the first stage would be faster than the second as cyclists won’t have to traverse as many hills.

However, there will be a ‘King of the mountain’ section in the first stage, while competitors the following day will face an arduous journey, including a climb up the notoriously difficult Holme Moss, as they tackle a total of 1,400m of gruelling climbs.

After two stages in Yorkshire, which will be preceded by a presentation of the teams at Leeds Arena on July 3, the peloton will head south on July 7, with a stage from Cambridge to London.

IAN BRIGGS DISCUSSES THE TOUR DE FRANCE ON YORKSHIRE RADIO. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Mr Prudhomme hailed the efforts of the Yorkshire bid team.

“Yorkshire has the know-how in terms of organisation,” he told the 100 journalists. “I know Yorkshire but I hadn’t realised Yorkshire was so gorgeous until I spent some time here last year.

“We have encountered a phenomenal desire to welcome the Tour de France and no doubt that popular acclaim will be particularly in evidence over here.”

Mr Verity added: “The routes of the Grand Départ will showcase some of Yorkshire’s iconic cycling climbs and the county’s stunning land and cityscapes.

“The peloton will be technically tested as they tackle some challenging terrain in what are sure to be two exhilarating days of racing in the county. The British public’s response since the news broke that the 2014 Grand Départ would be hosted in Yorkshire has been overwhelming and I am sure the route announcements today will encourage even more people to come to the county to experience for themselves the phenomenon that is Le Tour”.

Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, added: “As a city we are absolutely thrilled to be hosting the start of the world’s largest annual sporting event in 2014, and speaking personally as an avid fan of the Tour de France and keen cyclist for over 25 years, I am incredibly proud and excited that Leeds has been given the honour of starting this amazing and legendary race.”

John Weighell, the leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said: “As one of the world’s premier sporting events, 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.”

Lawyers from the Leeds and Paris offices of international law firm Pinsent Masons had a part to play in the successful Yorkshire bid and partner Jon Riley said: “The Tour will be to Yorkshire what the Olympic Games were to London. We’ve backed le bid from the start. It’s not just about two days of racing: there’s now 18 months of build up and a commitment from Yorkshire to build a cycling legacy.”

Yesterday’s press conference was followed by a fireworks display outside Leeds Town Hall, viewed by hundreds of people, and a dinner to celebrate the Tour coming to the region and welcome senior organisers.