The Tour De France 2014 has been formally launched in Paris today - when more details were revealed of the Grand Depart stage through South Yorkshire.
Top cyclists will race through the county on Sunday, July 6, on the leg between York and Sheffield, entering from Holme Moss to Flouch, Bolsterstone, Bradfield, Worrall, Oughtibridge, Grenoside and into Sheffield to end at the Motorpoint Arena in Attercliffe.
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The race was described by South Yorkshire’s civic leaders as a ‘fantastic opportunity’ to boost the area’s economy by attracting tourists and business.
Gary Verity, chief executive of tourist agency Welcome to Yorkshire, was in the French capital to formally present the county to nearly 5,000 journalists from all over the world as proud hosts of the Grand Départ.
A new version of the official Grand Départ website – www.letouryorkshire.com – has been launched with interactive maps of the Yorkshire stages showing the routes in greater detail.
And plans are under way to host an official Grand Départ sportive campaign, to attract more international cycle races to Yorkshire.
Mr 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, Le Tour director, 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.”
The tour is set to be a major boost for areas on the route.
Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council cabinet member for business, spoke at an event today to promote the Grand Départ to city company chiefs.
He said: “It’s hard to overestimate the importance of the Tour to the city and region.”
The council believes media exposure from the race – which will be shown live on television to 3.5 billion people worldwide - and worth up to £5 million to the city.
Diana Terris, chief executive of Barnsley Council, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Barnsley as we welcome such a high profile, international event to our borough.
“I hope the hard work we are putting into being part of the Tour de France will create a wonderful legacy for cycling in Barnsley.”
Tony Favell, chairman of the Peak District National Park Authority, said: “We’ll be working flat out to give a huge welcome to international spectators as the world’s top cyclists travel through 18.5 miles of the glorious Peak District on July 6.
“We have one of the most spectacular climbs of Le Tour, at Holme Moss, and we’ll be doing our best to support local businesses and communities who want to make the most of this unique opportunity.
“It will be part of a great Summer of Cycling in the Peak District, with festivals, events and work on new cycling trails to link up with our major cities.
“The UK’s top cyclists already know the Peak District is a tremendous place for training, but it is well on the way to becoming a premier cycling destination for everyone.”
■ See tomorrow’s Star about why there is a delay to confirming the Tour’s exact route through Sheffield.