How did Yorkshire win Tour bid?

Cycle race in YorkshireTourism bosses emphasised Yorkshire’s landscape in their bid to bring top cyclists to the county

Not long ago the idea Yorkshire could host the Tour de France may have seemed fanciful in the extreme.

The region faced serious international competition from the likes of Barcelona, Berlin, Florence and Edinburgh.

So how did Yorkshire persuade the French to bring the Tour to the north of England?

Much of the credit must go to the tourism body Welcome To Yorkshire (WTY).

Among the many tactics they employed to sway the tour’s organisers in favour of Yorkshire was a stunning promotional film highlighting the dramatic Yorkshire landscape.

The body’s chief executive Gary Verity travelled to Paris earlier this year to make sure Yorkshire was on the agenda at the annual Tour de France presentation.

He said at the time: “I believe it is our destiny to host the tour in Yorkshire. We have done virtually all we can do for a positive outcome.”

‘Most beautiful’

Yorkshire’s bid was helped along by the British cycling success stories of Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, who publicly backed the Yorkshire bid.

“I have family from Yorkshire, I spent a lot of my childhood there and I can tell you it is one of the most beautiful parts of not just England but the world,” said Cavendish.

His uncle Russell Davidson, who lives in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, has been involved in the bid and was part of the Yorkshire delegation in Paris.

Gary VerityGary Verity of Welcome To Yorkshire said he felt it was destiny the county should host the Tour

“We were at the drinks party after the final stages of the Tour de France in Paris and I got introduced to Christian Prudhomme [Tour de France director general] and he said to me: ‘Oh we had bids from Scotland and from this region and that region but then I see on the presentation video Mark Cavendish and how you got him to back Yorkshire.

“At that stage I realised Yorkshire was in with a very good chance.”

Mr Verity was also confident and brought the French to Yorkshire to show them the best of the region, even stopping off at his own farm in the Yorkshire Dales.

The WTY team put on a show for the French delegates, flying them by helicopter to the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales national parks and then landing at Harewood House near Leeds where they dined on food prepared by top chef Simon Guellor of the Box Tree restaurant in Ilkley.

A keen cyclist himself, he said: “We served them Yorkshire lamb because we thought it was the absolute best of Yorkshire produce.

“It is unbelievable to think that something we did has played a part in getting the Tour de France.

“I am a huge cycling fan, a big cyclist myself and just to be part of that in any small way is absolutely unbelievable.”

The council in Leeds has also worked hard to promote the city as a starting point to the race.

City council leader Keith Wakefield said: “They saw a great opportunity with the buildings we have around here, the Civic Hall, the Town Hall, the hotels, the Arena all within five minutes’ walk.

“I think they were absolutely wowed.”

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