Even before this year’s historic Tour de France, audacious moves were already afoot to bring the race to England’s largest county, Yorkshire.
Now, following Bradley Wiggin’s historic success and Team GB’s cycling Olympic glories, the county’s bid team is confident it is in an even stronger position to follow in the footsteps of Liège and host the Grand Départ with an agreement to host a third stage in southern England and a guarantee to deliver Le Tour back to France within an hour of finishing.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the tourism agency which is leading the bid, said: “We are not bidding for any other major events, we made a choice and it was simple, we want to deliver the best international Grand Départ in the Tour’s history. We met with Tour de France organisers ASO, we listened to what they had to say and took on board their comments. We have worked hard as a county to address all of ASO’s requirements which is why we are in a position today to say Yorkshire could host the Tour de France tomorrow.
“Yorkshire’s bid is logistically strong, visually stunning and emotionally powerful. We want to pay tribute to Yorkshire’s heroes of Le Tour, men like Brian Robinson and Barry Hoban, and bring Le Tour to the county in which they discovered their passion for cycling.
“We want to inspire a new generation of cyclists from Yorkshire to follow them and make their mark in the greatest cycle race in the world, which is why we feel the time is right to bring the Tour de France to the spiritual heartland of British cycling and why we are saying today, we are ready.”
The county’s bid also has the high-profile support of Olympians such as Mark Cavendish, Ben Swift and Ed Clancy as well as former Tour legends from the county, Brian Robinson – the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France in 1958 – and Barry Hoban, winner of eight stages.
It is being underwritten within the county with support from local authorities including Kirklees, Calderdale, North Yorkshire County Council, Bradford, Wakefield, York and Leeds City Council, with Leeds being the bid host city supported by Marketing Leeds and Leeds City Region Partnership.
The bid also has cross-party political support and buy-in from the business community.
The public campaign to ‘Back le Bid’ to bring the Tour de France to Yorkshire is also gathering pace, with tens of thousands of people already pledging their support.