Cycling star backs Yorkshire Tour de France bid

ONE of the fastest sprint cyclists in the world has backed Yorkshire’s bid to host the opening stages of the Tour de France in 2016.

Mark Cavendish, who has won 20 Tour de France stages and claimed this year’s green jersey as the race’s best sprinter, has thrown his support behind the ambitious bid.

Welcome to Yorkshire, the region’s tourist board, revealed it was in talks to host the 2016 Grand Départ in May.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Cavendish said: “My mum is from Yorkshire so I’m proud to be backing the Yorkshire 2016 bid.

“The region would provide a stunning backdrop to the Tour as well as a real test for the competitors.

“I have fond memories of holidaying in Yorkshire, a lot of my family still live there and it would be fantastic if the world’s greatest cycle race could come to Yorkshire, I’m sure it would host a stunning Grand Départ.”

The route submitted by Yorkshire for consideration proposes Leeds city centre as the starting destination from which the 22 teams would weave their way to the Yorkshire Dales before heading east to Scarborough and the coast, via York and the North York Moors.

Then they would drop south to Hull and finally to Sheffield.

The racing would be spread over two days covering 180km (112 miles) a day with Leeds hosting a festival of music and entertainment to welcome the teams and the Tour’s entourage.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “To have Mark’s backing for our bid is massive. We are serious about bringing Le Grand Départ to Yorkshire and giving the French a warm Yorkshire welcome.

“The county is passionate about sport and would be thrilled to host the most celebrated cycle race in the world.”

Yorkshire has a history of hosting world sporting events, including the Mountain Bike World Cup and the start of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. The region is due to host the Olympic torch relay next year for six days.