The full official route for the 2014 Tour de France was announced at a glitzy event in Paris this morning. New UCI president Brian Cookson, ex of British Cycling, got a huge round of applause and there were other unmissable signs that Britain is claiming next year's Tour de France as its own, and not just because Brits have won the event for the last two year's running.
The Cambridge to London stage is exciting enough but Yorkshire is really rolling out the red carpet for Le Tour. As well as asking gardeners to grow yellow roses, instead of traditional white ones, Yorkshire is creating permanent brown tourist signs for the Tour de France's stage one route through God's own county.
The Grand Départ county (GD's own county, you could say) has also rolled out a new website.
As part of this morning's ceremony, Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, formally presented the county to nearly 5,000 journalists from all over the world.
He said plans are underway to host an official Grand Départ sportive and to attract more international cycle races to Yorkshire.
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.
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.”
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.”
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."
The first phase of new waymarked signs are being installed by North Yorkshire County Council along the route of Stage One. Approximately 50 signs will be used to guide people around the route with most of new signs in place by early 2014.
Yorkshire will also be hosting linked events during the 4-6th July kick off for the 2014 staging of the Grand Bouclé, including the Yorkshire Festival of Cycling to be staged at Harewood House near Leeds. The festival will give cycling fans the opportunity to see the Tour de France first-hand as it passes through the house’s grounds during Stage 1 on Saturday 5th July.
The Yorkshire Festival of Cycling also has a new headline sponsor, Dare 2b..
The festival - which includes an expo - will offer various camping options so visitors can enjoy the Tour experience all weekend. There will also be rides including sportives for all abilities, duathlons, a womens-only Cycletta, and kids’ events.
Harewood House will also be home to VIP hospitality for corporate guests and individuals.
Graham Rickard, MD of Dare 2b, said: “We are very excited to be sponsoring the Yorkshire Festival of Cycling. It will be a privilege to be part of history as the Tour starts in Yorkshire for the very first time.”