Tour de France to Showcase Best of Yorkshire
There were always going to be winners and losers when the route for the Yorkshire stages of the 2014 Tour de France was announced. Broadly speaking, this will please the Yorkshire cycling community, the purists, local businesses and the public at large.
The buzz around the office this morning has confirmed that there is enthusiasm from all quarters, which will be replicated throughout the region. The Propaganda office has been punctuated today by shouts of, ‘oh, it’s going past my house’. I feel the route has been chosen to provide viewing opportunities for as many people as possible – 98% of Yorkshire residents will be within 1 hour of the route according to organisers.
The cycling heartlands of Otley and Ilkley are in prominence, with the spectacular Dales taking centre stage on day one. The major conurbations are also catered for, with the routes going through Leeds, Bradford, York, Huddersfield and Sheffield. The major loser appears to be East Yorkshire, and I must admit that a finish on the promenade in Scarborough would have proved the region as a county of contrasts. I feel that their ‘out on a limb’ nature may have done for any such plans.
The route is likely to be characterised by Yorkshire’s natural beauty and scale on day one, juxtaposed the county’s industrial heritage on day two – fulfilling the brief of providing a showcase for local tourism and businesses. This is crucial to the region, and estimates have been set at over £100m of income generation from the event.
If any one thing surprised me about the route, it would be the difficulty of the second stage. Obviously this won’t compare to the inevitable mountain stages to follow in the Alps and the Pyrenees, but the run in to Sheffield could open up some significant time gaps still, and the top riders will not be able to rest easy. This is pleasing, as it proves the stages in the UK will provide some real excitement and not just a ‘shop window’ for Yorkshire.