A HUGE economic windfall can be expected when the Tour de France, one of the world’s biggest sporting events, arrives in Yorkshire in 2014.
The tour last started in Britain in 2007, when the Grand Depart was staged in London and Kent.
It created an estimated economic windfall of £90 million for London and the South East. London mayor Boris Johnson is hoping the capital will enjoy similar or even greater returns.
Transport for London (TfL), one of the main backers of the 2007 English start, estimated the event brought £88 million to south-east England.
It also generated £35 million worth of media coverage.
Spectator numbers were estimated at two million over the two days of racing, and cycle journeys in London increased by more than 10% after the Tour’s visit.
After beating worldwide competition to stage part of the historic annual road race, Yorkshire officials are hoping to be in line for another similarly positive boost.
Yorkshire will host the first two days of racing on July 5 and 6 before the Tour moves south for a third stage in southern England, with a finish in London.
London will host the last stage on British soil, before the pack returns to mainland Europe.
A cycling and arts festival is also planned in Yorkshire.
Staging any part of the historic race is a huge economic prize.
The Tour de France attracts 12 million spectators along the route in a typical year’s race. There are 1,200 hotel rooms reserved each night for the teams, staff, press and tour personnel.
There are 4,700 hours of TV coverage, and 2,000 accredited journalists from around the world attend.
Ken Livingstone, the London mayor in 2007, noted that talks had begun for the Tour to return to Britain soon after the successful sunbathed 2007 Grand Depart.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme described the event as “an unforgettable memory”.
He said: “It was a resounding popular success and the riders’ journey past such emblematic places as Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and also Tower Bridge contributed to the splendour of the event.”
With Bradley Wiggins’ historic victory this year as the first Briton to win the Tour de France and the success of British cycling in international competition, the riders will all get huge support.
The pack can hope for the sort of warm reception that greeted athletes at the London 2012 Games.
It will be another high-profile chance to show off British landmarks as the nation continues to build its reputation as a place to stage big sporting events.
London’s Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy recalls London’s 2007 Tour de France Grand Depart as a “spectacular weekend”.
He said: “Millions lined the streets and it significantly boosted the number of people cycling in the capital.
“The Tour de France is the largest annual sporting event in the world.
“Like the London 2012 Games, it will showcase our city as a world class visitor destination and has the power to inspire even more Londoners on to two wheels, particularly following the heroic successes of Great Britain’s world class riders.”
Tourism in Yorkshire is worth £7 billion annually and the county’s industry employs almost a quarter of a million people.
Leeds City Council leader Keith Wakefield said: “We are honoured that Leeds has been chosen to be the host city of the 2014 Grand Depart.
“Leeds has a proud racing and riding history so it will be wonderful to welcome the biggest cycle race of them all to the heart of our vibrant city centre, inspire a new generation of Yorkshire cyclists to compete on the world stage and leave a lasting cycling legacy for the city.”