The possibility of Leeds hosting the start of the world’s greatest cycle race the Tour de France will be debated by senior councillors next week.
Formal approval for Leeds to be the host city for the Grand Départ of the legendary race is expected to be given by Leeds City Council’s executive board at the meeting at Civic Hall on Wednesday 17 October.
The Leeds element forms part of the regional bid being led by Welcome to Yorkshire in partnership with local authorities and regional bodies to bring the largest annual sporting event in the world to the county. The bidding process against other major European cities is ongoing, and Leeds confirming its intention to be the host city for the start is a key element of the bid which has so far received more than 150,000 pledges of support in an online campaign (www.yorkshire.com/back-the-bid).
Aside from the traditional final stage and finish of the race on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, being chosen as the venue of the Grand Départ is a hugely prestigious honour and is the most publicised of all other locations in every Tour de France.
Aside from holding the start of the race, the host venue is the focal point of attention for the race in the days leading up to the Grand Départ with the competing teams being presented to the public, while there are also cycle shows, displays, market stalls, competitions and a range of cultural events in celebration of the Tour’s arrival.
When the race began in London before heading for a stage through Kent in 2007, the event generated an estimated £88million of economic benefit to the two areas, attracted over three million spectators and publicity valued at £35m with more than 20,000 pieces of media coverage being produced by the world’s media covering the race.
Cycling is now one of the fastest-growing sports in the UK, with interest in the sport and the Tour de France at an all-time high following the historic first-ever victory by a British rider with Bradley Wiggins’ stunning win this year, supported by fellow countryman Chris Froome finishing second and sprint star Mark Cavendish winning three stages including the prestigious final stage in Paris.
The amazing success of Team GB and Paralympics GB in the Olympic Velodrome and on the roads at London 2012 has also hugely boosted the sport’s profile, with medal-winners Lizzie Armitstead from Otley (silver) and Rawdon resident David Stone MBE (gold and bronze) being local role models for the sport and supporters of the bid to bring the Tour to Leeds and Yorkshire.
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:
“For Leeds to be able to host the start of the Tour de France would be incredible in terms of the global profile the city would receive from being a focal point for the world’s largest annual sporting event.
“The benefits would be enormous, not only in profile, tourism and financial terms, but in terms of a legacy of inspiring in particular young people to lead healthy lifestyles.
“We have all seen the amazing impact the success of Bradley Wiggins and the Olympics and Paralympics cycling stars has had in inspiring people of all ages to get out on bikes.
“By bringing the best riders in the world and the biggest cycle race in the world to Leeds and Yorkshire it would raise that inspiration factor up another notch through one of the greatest and most valuable events in the history of the city.”
For support the Yorkshire bid to host the Tour de France, visit http://www.yorkshire.com/back-the-bid
For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472