Prudhomme excited for Tour start

Hampshire Chronicle: Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity brought the Tour de France to Yorkshire Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity brought the Tour de France to Yorkshire

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme predicts the Yorkshire Grand Depart will result in another major boost for cycling in the UK, similar to the one seen after London hosted the same event in 2007.

One million people were estimated to have lined the central London prologue route seven years ago and millions are expected to be on the roadside for Saturday's opening stage from Leeds to Harrogate, Sunday's second stage from York to Sheffield and Monday's third stage from Cambridge to London.

Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation were welcomed to Leeds-Bradford airport on Monday evening by French national anthem La Marseillaise and Prudhomme has been amazed to see Yorkshire painted yellow and decorated with bicycles.

Prudhomme said: "I'm very excited. I'm thrilled and impressed with Yorkshire and all its people have done.

"In 2007, in London, the Grand Depart was unforgettable and there was a step-change after the Grand Depart in London.

"And I firmly believe after this Grand Depart in Yorkshire there will be another step-change."

It is Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity's stated aim to make the region a global cycling centre.

That came a step closer on Wednesday when Welcome to Yorkshire and ASO announced the Tour of Yorkshire, a new race which will first run from May 1 to 3, 2015.

Prudhomme added: "Alongside the public interest for cycling, highlighted by the Grand Depart, Yorkshire boasts beautiful breathtaking scenery worthy of any of the cycling season's major events.

"It therefore seems perfectly natural for Welcome to Yorkshire, British Cycling and ASO to continue working together in this new land of cycling, through the Tour of Yorkshire."

Verity was responsible for bringing the race to the region and cannot wait for the riders to take to the start line on Saturday.

"There is a real buzz now," Verity told Press Association Sport.

"It's the biggest sporting event in the UK since London 2012.

"It will change people's lives for the better. It will be inspirational for the north of England and for Yorkshire in particular. That's why we were desperate for it.

"Everyone wants the Grand Depart. After this Yorkshire Grand Depart they'll want it even more.

"The world will see how beautiful Yorkshire is and how Yorkshire has embraced the Tour."

Yorkshire was chosen ahead of a rival bid which was to begin in Edinburgh.

Prudhomme refused to rule out a return to the UK soon, pointing to the example that the Dutch city of Utrecht missed out to Rotterdam in 2010 and will host the 2015 Grand Depart.

"Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in the world," Prudhomme said.

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