England

Tour De France chief in Yorkshire to view race preparations

Christian Prudhomme
Image caption Christian Prudhomme (centre) saw improvement work on the Tour de France route in Yorkshire

The head of the Tour De France has visited Yorkshire to view preparations for the start of the race in the county next year.

Christian Prudhomme met business owners and tourism representatives ahead of Yorkshire's Grand Depart on 5-6 July.

He was shown work under way for the event, including the resurfacing of hundreds of miles of country roads.

Mr Prudhomme said: "From the first day in Yorkshire in 2014 everything will be very important."

Yorkshire beat off the challenge of bids from Florence and Edinburgh to host the prestigious event.

The first stage will take riders through the Yorkshire Dales to Harrogate.

Day two of the Tour will start in York and end in Sheffield.

The race then moves south for the third stage from Cambridge to London, where it finishes.

'Dream scenario'

Speaking near Masham, North Yorkshire, about 25 miles north of the end of stage one, Mr Prudhomme said he could not wait to see British cyclists cheered along by large crowds in Yorkshire.

Image caption Yorkshire will host two stages of the 2014 Tour de France on 5-6 July

He said it would be incredible to watch sprint specialist Mark Cavendish heading into Harrogate - the end of stage one and home to the former world champion's mother.

"I can imagine for Mark Cavendish this first stage of 2014 is the most important sprint of his life," Mr Prudhomme said.

"A win in Yorkshire, at his mother's place, for a yellow jersey. It would be his first yellow jersey."

Mr Prudhomme predicted the York to Sheffield stage would prove to be a real challenge for cycling's elite riders, saying it was as difficult as anything in the Tour's history.

Welcome to Yorkshire's chief executive Gary Verity, who masterminded the county's successful bid for next year's Grand Depart, outlined his "dream scenario".

"Weather identical to today, a fantastic first 190km and then Cav winning with a sprint finish on The Stray in Harrogate. That would be our dream day."

The Tour de France last visited the UK in 2007, when London hosted the prologue and the opening stage.

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