Major discussions over Yorkshire's bid to host the Tour de France (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Major discussions over Yorkshire's bid to host the Tour de France
PIVOTAL talks over whether Yorkshire will host the opening stages of the Tour de France took place in Paris today (Wednesday, October 24).
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, has taken part in major discussions in France with race organiser, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), over whether the county should host the beginning of the world’s biggest annual sporting event.
A final decision was expected from the ASO earlier this month and it is expected to be announced soon. Mr Verity pressed the region’s case for hosting the race, which could boost Yorkshire’s economy by up to £300m if successful.
The meeting was also a chance to go over the technical details gathered by the ASO on a fact-finding mission to West and North Yorkshire several weeks ago and consolidate the bid.
In September, Welcome to Yorkshire told The Northern Echo it was "very optimistic" it would be able to announce the Tour de France would be coming to Yorkshire and said at the time it was perusing contracts to do with the race.
ASO has already held detailed discussions with Yorkshire tourism officials about routes across the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Coast and through York.
The Grand Depart prologue time trial would be staged in Leeds, as it is the only place in Yorkshire with sufficient accommodation and a large enough railway station, before two days of racing in North Yorkshire.
Speaking from the meeting, Mr Verity told The Northern Echo the meeting was “all very positive” and “heading in the right direction”.
Later he added: "I think the decision will be announced over the next few months. We've done just about everything we can now, it's a case of sitting back and being patient.
Asked if the plan was to bring the race to the region in 2014 or 2016, Mr Verity said: "We're race ready as soon as they want to come, so it's their shout."
The campaign has been backed by cycling star Mark Cavendish, whose family lives in Harrogate, and Olympic triathlon medallists Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee.
It is understood the ASO is keen for the routes, which would cover about 400km, to include breathtaking views of the North Yorkshire countryside for its global television audience of nearly 50 million people per stage.
A further stage would be held in the South of England before the tour, which has seen a massive rise in popularity in Britain following Bradley Wiggins' victory in July, moves on to France.
A spokeswoman for Welcome to Yorkshire said: “These meetings today were a chance to consolidate the bid, looking at the technical details, and to press the case for bringing the race to Yorkshire.”