As reported in Digital Journal last month, the Tour de France 2014 will start in the UK
. Speaking at a press conference in Leeds Town Hall, yesterday, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme unveiled that not only would the start of the race — Le Grand Départ
— take place in Yorkshire, but there will be a total of three stages in the UK.
The 170 kilometre first stage will see the 2014 Tour de France set off on July 5 2014, from Leeds Town Hall and pass through the Yorkshire Dales National Park to the finish in Harrogate, reports Sport Business
The second stage will start from the historical city of York and cyclists will travel 200 kilometres, passing through Keighley and Huddersfield, en route to the stage finish in Sheffield, also in Yorkshire.
The Tour de France will then move south for the third stage starting in another historic location, Cambridge.
The 170 kilometre third stage will see cyclists meander through Essex, taking in Epping Forest before passing London’s Olympic stadium heading to a sprint finish along The Mall in London, in the shadow of Buckingham Palace.
The remaining, continental European stages of the Tour de France 2014, for the most part over French roads, will be announced in Paris on October 23.
Leading British sprinter Mark Cavendish is likely to relish the opening stage in Yorkshire. Cavendish was an ambassador for Yorkshire’s successful bid to host the 2014 Le Grand Départ, winning out against competing bids from the cities of Florence in Italy and Edinburgh in Scotland.
The last time the Tour de France visited British shores was in 2007 when London hosted the prologue followed by a stage from London to Canterbury in Kent, the nearest British county to France. At that time, up to two million spectators were estimated to have lined the routes to watch the peloton, the phalanx of cyclists, as they sped past, reports the Daily Mirror
Speaking on the Tour de France
website, tour director Christian Prudhomme said,
“Unforgettable. That’s the word that springs to mind when I think about the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in London back in 2007, the first ever organised in Great Britain.
We hope and trust that the 2014 Grand Départ will be just as spectacular. This is my wish, and I don’t think I need to worry, as it seems very likely to come true given how impressed we were with the passion and desire of our friends from Yorkshire ever since we first met.
At that time, we were considering a return to the UK for the Tour in 2016-2017. That was before British cycling’s golden summer. Bradley Wiggins’ historic victory in the Tour de France combined with the phenomenal success of the cycling events during the Olympic Games convinced us that we should come back earlier and, to tell the truth, as quickly as possible.”
With British cyclists like Mark Cavendish, Chris Hoy, and Bradley Wiggins having been so much to the fore in the recent London 2012 Olympics, both in road races and in the velodrome, there can be little doubt that the 2014 Tour de France, which will see riders penetrate much deeper into the British countryside, will be likely to see the 2007 attendance figure exceeded by a wide margin.