Tour de France organisers, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), have selected the most scenic and demanding route possible for the grand départ of the 2014 edition of the race with two tough stages in Yorkshire.
Leeds (home of Human Kinetics Europe) will host the grand départ and stage one will be a loop up into the Yorkshire Moors before a finish in Harrogate, which should have a special resonance for former world champion Mark Cavendish as his mother hails from the North Yorkshire town.
The following day’s stage will start in York, a city which played a huge part in the bid and features another demanding day with six brutal looking climbs in the final 60km before arriving in Sheffield.
The tour then transfers down to Cambridge for the start of the final UK stage which promises to be truly spectacular as it heads for central London via Epping Forest and the Olympic Park before finishing on the Mall.
More than one million spectators are expected to line the route, but Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity hopes the race will create a far greater legacy.
“The real judgement should come from someone in 10 years’ time who looks back at the grand départ and asks what difference he made,” said Mr Verity.
“We will know that it has been a great success, building on the Olympic legacy, if there is a huge increase in the number of people who take up cycling locally. We want to achieve a cultural change.”
Ideas include a massive programme of training in the region’s schools as well as creating a new network of safer cycling routes.