Yorkshire to host start of Tour de France
England to host opening 3 stages of 2014 Tour
The 2014 Tour de France will start in Northern England for the first time, organizers of cycling's most prestigious race announced Friday.
The first two stages of the 101st edition of the Tour will take place in the county of Yorkshire, with Leeds the host city of the Grand Depart.
The third stage will move south with the finish in London, which successfully hosted the start of the 2007 Tour de France.
British riders dominated this year's Tour as Bradley Wiggins recorded a memorable victory with his teammate Chris Froome in second place, while sprinting star Mark Cavendish claimed three stage wins.
Wiggins went on to claim the gold medal in the men's time trial at the 2012 London Olympics, as millions crammed the roadside to watch his heroics.
Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour de France, said this had been a major factor in their decision.
"Since the resounding success of the Grand Depart in London in 2007, we were very keen to return to the United Kingdom,
"Bradley Wiggins' historic victory last July and the enormous crowds that followed the cycling events in the streets of London during the Olympic Games encouraged us to go back earlier than we had initially planned.
"Yorkshire is a region of outstanding beauty, with breathtaking landscapes whose terrains offer both sprinters and attackers the opportunity to express themselves," he added.
Yorkshire is the biggest county in England and is the home of three notable former Tour de France riders in Brian Robinson, the first Britain to win a stage of the Tour de France in 1958, Barry Hoban, who won eight stages and Malcolm Elliott, the first British rider to hold the green points jersey in the three-week race.
The region is likely to reap an economic benefit from hosting two stages, with an estimated two million people watching the equivalent legs of the 2007 race in the British capital and the southern county of Kent, bringing $141 million in extra revenue, according the the main backer of the start, Transport for London.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the agency behind the county's bid, said they were proud to have been selected.
"It will mean less than two years after hosting the Olympics the British public can look forward to another of the world's biggest sporting events coming to the country, " he said.
Since its inception in 1903, the Tour de France has become one of the top global sporting events with millions of fans lining the 3,500km route to cheer on the peloton.
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