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Yorkshire to host start of 2014 Tour
Yorkshire is the latest to benefit from the Bradley Wiggins effect and the feel-good factor generated by London 2012 after being awarded the start of the 2014 Tour de France.
Two stages, the first beginning in Leeds, will be held in the county on July 5 and 6, Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation announced on Friday, after the Welcome to Yorkshire-led bid won the right to host the Grand Depart ahead of rival bids including an Edinburgh start, which was backed by British Cycling.
The third stage of the 101st Tour will finish in London, with Tour director Christian Prudhomme eager to capitalise on the experiences of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The lure of London may have been the clinching factor for the Yorkshire bid as the Tour returns to Britain for the first time since 2007, when one million people lined the streets of the capital for the opening prologue.
Ahead of the route announcement on January 17, Prudhomme said: "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 historical 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.
"We have encountered a phenomenal desire from the Yorkshire team to welcome the Tour de France and have no doubt that passion and support will be particularly evident for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2014."
Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity added: "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 is a passionate county of proud people and I am sure they will guarantee that their Grand Depart raises the bar in terms of expectations for all future hosts to come."