Charm offensive hope in race for Tour de France

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TOURISM leaders in Yorkshire have pledged to mount a major charm offensive to counter the threat of a rival bid that aims to take the opening stages of the Tour de France to Scotland.

The most senior executives behind the world-famous cycle race will be in Yorkshire this month for key meetings in Leeds and a helicopter tour of the region.

Welcome to Yorkshire is bidding to host the Grand Depart, the opening stage of the race, in 2016.

But a joint bid was unveiled this week by EventScotland, British Cycling and UK Sport, and backed by the Scottish government, to have the race held in Scotland in 2017.

Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive, Gary Verity, said: “It is a fantastic honour to host the Tour de France, and we believe Yorkshire is the best location to do just that.

“There is high-profile support and we will be showing exactly what we have to offer when the race organisers are here.”

The proposed route would start in Leeds before taking in the Dales and the North York Moors along with key locations including York, Scarborough, Hull and Sheffield. The bid has already been backed by world cycling sprint champion Mark Cavendish.

The rival bid’s organisers admitted a proposed route has yet to be finalised but said it would start in Edinburgh before heading south. A spokesman said: “This is not just about Scotland; we want the whole of the UK to benefit. We have not ruled out the possibility of including Yorkshire on the route.”