The Tour de France will return to Great Britain in 2014 after Yorkshire won the right to host the Grand Départ.
Welcome to Yorkshire fought off rival bids from Edinburgh, Florence and Barcelona to secure the right to host the opening stages of the 101st edition of the race.
The county will host the first two days of racing on July 5 and 6 2014 before the Tour moves south for a third stage finishing in London. Further details will be announced on Thursday January 17 2013 at a press conference in Leeds.
The Tour de France last came to Great Britain in 2007, when London hosted a prologue won by Fabian Cancellara, before Robbie McEwen won a road stage from the capital to Canterbury.
Yorkshire had initially bid to host the 2016 Grand Départ but Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France victory and the success of the London 2012 Olympic Games, when hundreds of thousands of spectators lined the roads, accelerated the bid.
“Since the resounding success of the Grand Départ in London in 2007, we were very keen to return to the United Kingdom,” said Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme.
“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.”
Yorkshire’s bid received high profile support from 23-time Tour de France stage winner Mark Cavendish, Team Sky’s Ben Swift and double Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy, as well as Brian Robinson, who was the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France in 1958, Barry Hoban, winner of eight stages, and Malcolm Elliott, the first Briton to win a points jersey in a Grand Tour (Vuelta a Espana, 1989).
Prudhomme visited the county in late May to assess the bid and victory represents a huge coup for Welcome to Yorkshire, the agency behind the campaign, after British Cycling offered its support to Edinburgh’s rival bid, which included four road stages across Great Britain. Edinburgh still remains in the running to host a future Grand Depart.
British Cycling chairman 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.”
This will be the second time the Grand Départ has been hosted in Britain after London in 2007, when an estimated two million spectators lined the roads, while it will be the fourth time the Tour has visited these shores, after Plymouth hosted a single stage in 1974 and two stages took place across the south of England in 1994.
Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity added: “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 Départ.
“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.”