Tour de France cities celebrate

British cities will be hosting parts of the Tour de France next year

British cities will be hosting parts of the Tour de France next year

First published in National News © by

British cities have begun celebrating news they will be hosting the Tour de France in 2014 after organisers confirmed stages will begin in Leeds, York and Cambridge.

Details of the exact routes of the first three stages of the race were announced in Paris and included confirmation that the third stage will take in the Olympic Park in London and finish in the capital, on The Mall.

The decision to start the 2014 Tour in Yorkshire provoked excitement across the county when it was confirmed last year and now towns and cities including Harrogate, Sheffield and Huddersfield are beginning their preparations.

Kersten England, chief executive of City of York Council, said: "We're delighted to announce to the world that York is hosting the Tour de France Grand Depart, particularly as this year is its centenary race. As a cyclist myself, it's a privilege to be appointed as the senior legacy lead for the region and to ensure that this important legacy lives on in Yorkshire, builds on this city's long-standing commitment to cycling and inspires generations to come - maybe even a future Tour winner?"

A delegation from Yorkshire is now heading back from Paris ahead of a grand celebration in Leeds.

The tour organisers confirmed the Grand Depart of the 101st staging of the famous race will be in Leeds on July 5, 2014. The riders will then travel through the Yorkshire Dales to Harrogate.

The second stage will start in York and move through towns including Keighley, Huddersfield and Holmfirth before ending in Sheffield.

The tour will then move south for the Cambridge to London leg. The capital staged the opening prologue in 2007 - the last time the race came to England - with one million people lining the streets. This will be the second time Britain has hosted the Grand Depart and the fourth visit in all following a single stage in Plymouth in 1974 and two across the south of England 20 years later.

Yorkshire won the bid to stage the Grand Depart in December, beating off rivals including Florence in Italy. The world's most famous bike race begins outside France every other year. Yorkshire has a rich cycling tradition, with Britain's first Tour stage winner Brian Robinson coming from Huddersfield. Britain also boasts the reigning Tour de France champion, with Sir Bradley Wiggins becoming the first man from the UK to win the event last July.

Kris Hopkins, the Tory MP for Keighley and Ilkley, said: "I am absolutely thrilled on behalf of local people, not just those who live in Ilkley but also in the surrounding areas, that the Tour is coming to our part of the country. Ilkley is home to the fastest growing cycling club in the United Kingdom, with more than 1,000 members, and fully deserves this reward. The Tour de France is one of the world's biggest and best classic sporting events and is on a scale not yet fully appreciated in this country."

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