Tour de France to start in Yorkshire in 2014 with Leeds as host city
Last Updated: 14/12/12 6:09pm
Yorkshire-bound: Tour de France will head back to England in 2014
Yorkshire has been selected to host the start of the 2014 Tour de France.
It will be the first time the sport's most prestigious race has been held in the north of England and the first time in the UK since 2007.
The county will host the opening two stages, on July 5 and 6, before the race moves south for a third day that will finish in London.
The Grand Départ will be held in Leeds, which will also hold a festival of cycling to coincide with the arrival of the Tour.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the agency behind the county's bid, said: "Today is a proud day for everyone involved in the bid and the county as a whole. We are honoured that the race organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation [ASO], have selected Yorkshire to be the host location of the 2014 Grand Départ.
"Yorkshire is a passionate county of proud people and I am sure they will guarantee that their Grand Départ raises the bar in terms of expectations for all future hosts to come."
Bid brought forward
The county had initially campaigned to host the race in 2016, but their bid was received warmly by the Tour's organisers, who brought it forward two years after being impressed by Yorkshire's "outstanding beauty".
The other regions in the running were Florence, Italy, and Edinburgh, which remains in the running to host the start in future years.
The details of the Grand Depart and the stages it will include will be revealed on January 17.
"Today is a proud day for everyone involved in the bid and the county as a whole."
An ASO statement said: "The organisers of the Tour de France are pleased to announce that the Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2014 will take place in the United Kingdom in the county of Yorkshire, before heading to London for a stage finish.
"After an outstanding 2012 for British cycling, marked by the historical victory of Bradley Wiggins on the Tour de France, the United Kingdom will again hold pride of place in 2014."
The Yorkshire bid had the support of Mark Cavendish, Ben Swift, double Olympic track champion Ed Clancy and Brian Robinson, the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France in 1958.
Barry Hoban, winner of eight stages of the Tour, and Malcolm Elliott, the first British rider to win a points jersey in a Grand Tour, also backed the bid.
British Cycling president Brian Cookson said: "Like every other cycling fan, I am thrilled the world's biggest bike race is coming back to this country.
"The huge numbers who turned out to support the 2007 Grand Depart and the London 2012 road races show the passion we have for cycling.
"I'm sure Yorkshire will give the 2014 Tour de France a welcome which will stand out in the race's rich history."
Disappointment for Edinburgh
Edinburgh's bid was led by EventScotland, who are now refocusing on hosting the Grand Depart in a later year, possibly 2017.
An EventScotland spokesman said: "It is disappointing that we have been unsuccessful for the 2014 Grand Depart but it is great news that the Tour is returning in 2014 following British cycling success this year.
"Our initial plans had highlighted 2017 as our preferred date and we have had a positive indication from ASO that the year is still a possibility.
"We have developed a great British bid with strong partners, which would deliver significant benefits to the whole country and we will continue our positive dialogue with ASO in the new year and look at our next steps."