French president raises hopes of 
Tour de France coup for region

Labour leader Ed Miliband
Labour leader Ed Miliband
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FRENCH president François Hollande indicated his support for Yorkshire’s bid to host the Tour de France during a meeting with the Labour leader.

Ed Miliband, the Labour MP for Doncaster North, raised Yorkshire’s bid to host the first two stages – known as Le Grand Depart – of the Tour in 2016 during talks at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

It came just days after British cyclist Bradley Wiggins completed his epic victory in the sport’s most prominent contest, sparking a massive boost in interest in cycling in the UK.

“He said the Tour de France had gone through his constituency (Correze in south-west France) and I said I was looking forward to it hopefully going through mine,” Mr Miliband said.

“He seemed supportive of the idea.

“I know it is not a decision for him, but it would be a great thing for it to come to Yorkshire.”

A Back Le Bid campaign in Yorkshire has won support from 150,000 people, including cyclists Mark Cavendish and Brian Robinson – the first Briton ever to win a Tour de France stage in 1958, now aged 81.

“I’m backing Le Bid, like 150,000 others,” added Mr Miliband.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, who is leading the drive to bring the tour to the region, said: “We have strong cross-party political support within the county to make this happen and now we have the support of President François Hollande, which is great news for our bid.

“Yorkshire is seen by many as the spiritual heartland of cycling in the UK, we have the cycling heritage, we have the champions and we are race ready to host le Tour.

“It would be an honour to bring the race back to England and host it in our great county and we are working hard to make that happen.”

Labour sources said the Tour’s first visit to the UK, in 2007, directly generated £73m in London and £15m in Kent, as well as an estimated £35m of publicity.

The Yorkshire stages would run through Leeds, York, Hull, Sheffield, Scarborough and the Dales.