Jubilant celebrations were held across the Harrogate district this week as the official route for the Grand Depart was revealed.
The route will take the opening stage of the world’s biggest cycling race through Harrogate, Harewood, Nidderdale, Ripon and Knaresborough.
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, who is vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Tour de France’s Grand Départ in Yorkshire, has spoken of his delight at the news.
“I am delighted with this news, and the people of Harrogate and Knaresborough will be excited that the route comes to this constituency twice and the swell of tourists will make the occasion unforgettable.
“Having the route covering so much of Yorkshire’s iconic countryside is a great advertisement for this county, it will be broadcast to millions of homes across the world, and the viewers will not be disappointed.
“What Harrogate and Knaresborough has to offer as a backdrop for great sport is just fantastic in terms of business facilities, accommodation, historic sites and beautiful scenery as well as many passionate sporting fans. So the ingredients are already here to warmly welcome the Tour with open arms.”
Harrogate Council’s chief executive Wallace Sampson and council leader Anthony Alton flew to Paris on Thursday morning (17 January) for the announcement of the Tour de France route.
Speaking to the Harrogate Advertiser from Charles de Gaulle airport on their way back to Leeds Bradford. Mr Sampson said: “This is absolutely fantastic news for the Harrogate district, not only for Harrogate to be the finish location on Day One, but for other parts of the district, including Knaresborough, to be on the route on Day Two.
“This is the biggest thing I have ever been involved in, and more importantly it’s the biggest event ever for the Harrogate district.
“We hope the whole district really gets behind it and helps to promote Harrogate and its businesses. It will be worth absolutely millions to the local economy and it’s an opportunity for us to maximise the opportunity.”
He added: “The hard work starts from now.”
Coun Alton said: “This is wonderful news for Harrogate, a fantastic celebration of all the Harrogate district has to offer.”
Cycling enthusiasts are also looking forward to the chance of seeing stars such as defending champion and Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins.
Dave Prince who runs CycleHarrogatetoday said before the announcement that he was hopeful Harrogate would feature and sees the entire event as a chance to improve the town’s cycling infrastructure.
He said: “I think it is really good news the Tour is coming to Yorkshire, I hope it galvanises local government to invest in cycling infrastructure in Harrogate.
“I am hoping to be standing at a finish line somewhere watching Mark Cavendish with his head down.”
Mike Schafer, Chief Executive of the Harewood House Trust said: “We are delighted to have been involved in the bidding process and we’re enjoying the excitement of today’s announcement. Our gardens have been voted as the nation’s most romantic so it’s apt that we’re involved in Stage One, the ‘Romantic Stage.’ We will work hard to help showcase the beautiful county of Yorkshire to the world - this is an opportunity for us all and we look forward to July 2014.”
Harrogate Nova Cycling Club member and Time Trial winner Duncan Mullier believes Le Grand Départ will be inspiration for generations to come.
“Every time I put a wheel on the tarmac where it has been it will be like a holy communion,” he said.
“Every training ride would be an inspiration, like playing at Wembley.
“We could have front row seats to the world’s most gruelling sporting event for free!”
North Yorkshire County Council John Weighell has welcomed the inclusion of lengthy stages of the Tour in North Yorkshire, and predicted major economic benefits for the county as a result.
“We are one of the sponsors of the bid, and we are absolutely delighted with today’s announcement of the route,” he said.
“As one of the world’s premier sporting events, the Tour de France brings enormous international exposure and interest in its wake, and the inclusion of Yorkshire can only be excellent news for the economy of North Yorkshire, and its hugely important tourism businesses.”
Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France Director, said: “Yorkshire has interesting options for routes and a beautiful landscape.
“I knew Yorkshire but I didn’t realise it was so gorgeous until my last visit.
“Vive la Yorkshire.”
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Yorkshire is a land of outstanding landscapes and passionate people.
“We have been blessed. We have been called God’s county. And with this event we are insistent on putting Yorkshire on the map.”