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Hopes high for Yorkshire Tour de France confirmation
A BID to stage the three opening stages of the Tour de France in Yorkshire is close to being sealed, The Northern Echo has learnt.
Race organiser the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) has sent Welcome to Yorkshire contracts to examine and is holding detailed discussions with tourism bosses about routes across the Yorkshire Dales, 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 train station, before two days of racing in North Yorkshire.
ASO has told the tourism body it is likely to make an announcement at the end of this month or early next month.
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.
Welcome to Yorkshire has previously predicted a successful bid, which has been backed by cycling star Mark Cavendish, whose family lives in Harrogate , and Olympic triathlon medalists Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, would boost Yorkshire’s economy by up to £300m.
ASO has asked Welcome to Yorkshire to suggest a variety of different routes for the biggest annual sporting event in the world and is examining accomodation possibilities and widths of rural roads in North Yorkshire.
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 Welcome to Yorkshire spokeswoman said: “Things are developing very well and we are very optimistic they will announce the Tour de France is coming to Yorkshire in 2014 or 2016.
“The talks have become very serious and we are perusing contracts and looking at a lot of the technical details, such as the widths of the roads in the Dales.
“We are getting a lot of support from local authorities. The thought of something of this magnitude coming here is very exciting.”