Tour de France: Yorkshire to host start of 2014 race
Leeds will host the start of the 2014 Tour de France.
The Tour heads through Yorkshire on 5 and 6 July, before moving south for a third stage, finishing in London.
The race last visited the UK in 2007, when London hosted a prologue ahead of a road stage from the capital to Canterbury, attracting two-million spectators.
How did Yorkshire win Tour bid?
Not long ago the idea Yorkshire could host the Tour de France may have seemed fanciful in the extreme.
The region faced serious international competition from the likes of Barcelona, Berlin, Venice and Scotland.
So how did Yorkshire persuade the French to bring the Tour to the north of England?
Much of the credit must go to the tourism body Welcome To Yorkshire. Among the many tactics they employed to sway the tour's organisers in favour of Yorkshire was a stunning promotional film highlighting the dramatic Yorkshire landscape.
Yorkshire beat off the challenge of bids from Florence and Edinburgh to host the prestigious event.
However, Edinburgh remains in the running to host the Grand Depart at a future date.
It will be the fourth time the Tour has visited Britain after previous visits in 1974 and 1994.
Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, hosted the 2010 Grand Depart, while the 2012 race started in Liege in Belgium and next year's 100th race will begin in Corsica.
Full details of the route will be announced at a news conference in Leeds and Paris on 17 January.
Leeds will host a festival of cycling and the arts to coincide with the arrival of the Tour.
British Cycling president Brian Cookson said: "Like every other cycling fan, I am thrilled the world's biggest bike race is coming back to this country.
"The huge numbers who turned out to support the 2007 Grand Depart and the London 2012 road races show the passion we have for cycling.
"I'm sure Yorkshire will give the 2014 Tour de France a welcome which will stand out in the race's rich history."
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the agency behind the county's bid, said: "Today is a proud day for everyone involved in the bid and the county as a whole.
"We are honoured that the race organisers have selected Yorkshire to be the host location of the 2014 Grand Depart.
"It will mean that, 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.
"I am in no doubt they will come to Yorkshire in their millions, lining the length and breadth of the route to cheer on the champions of world cycling and our home grown British heroes."
Yorkshire 'delighted' to host Le Tour
Race director Christian Prudhomme added: "Since the resounding success of the Grand Depart in London in 2007, we were very keen to return to the United Kingdom.
"Bradley Wiggins's 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."
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