Exclusive: Yorkshire closes on deal to host start of Tour de France
TOURISM bosses are on the brink of finalising a deal to bring the Tour de France to Yorkshire.
Advanced discussions have been held with a view to hosting the opening stages of the 2016 event, potentially generating tens of millions of pounds for the economy while showcasing the region to a global television audience of more than two billion people.
Detailed talks have been taking place for a number of months and have included a bid team led by the tourist board Welcome to Yorkshire, which visited the Paris offices of the Tour’s organising committee to present the region’s credentials.
The talks have centred around the Grand Depart – the opening two days of racing which are held in a new location outside France every two years. It would be only the fourth time since the Tour started in 1903 that it has come to the UK.
The route submitted for consideration is believed to propose Leeds city centre as the starting destination. The 22 teams would then weave their way to the Yorkshire Dales, head east to Scarborough and the coast via York and the North York Moors, before dropping south to Hull and finally to Sheffield.
The racing would be spread over two days covering 112 miles a day, with Leeds hosting a festival of music and entertainment to welcome the teams and the Tour’s considerable entourage.
More talks are due to take place next month and the Yorkshire Post understands that there are plans for the Tour organisers to visit the region to see the proposed route.
Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity said: “I can confirm that we are having advanced talks to host the Tour de France. Those in-depth discussions are ongoing but I can reveal Yorkshire’s bid has been positively received by the organisation committee at this stage.
“Yorkshire is a world-class destination experienced at successfully hosting world-class events and we believe it will provide the perfect backdrop to the world’s greatest cycle race, producing the best international Grand Depart the Tour de France has seen yet.”
The Tour attracts around 15 million spectators and 1,200 hotel rooms are reserved for the teams, staff, press and tour personnel.
There are 2,000 hours of TV coverage and it is understood organisers are looking for particularly picturesque locations.
The event is watched in 185 countries every year on 92 different television channels with the last hour of every stage broadcast live across Western Europe.
• Full story in Saturday’s Yorkshire Post
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