Cyclists step up bid to bring 2016 Tour de France to East Yorkshire
A CAMPAIGN to bring a leg of the famous Tour de France cycle race to East Yorkshire has gone up a gear.
Local cyclists have added their support to "Back le Bid" following the tabling of an Early Day Motion by MPs in the House of Commons.
Efforts were launched by tourism body Welcome To Yorkshire and detailed talks have already been held with the Tour de France's organising committee.
The aim for 2016 is that Yorkshire will host the Grand Depart – the opening two days of the race, which are held in a new location outside France every year.
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Keen rider Peter Goldthorpe, who owns independent bike shop Minster Cycles in Norwood, Beverley, said: "Around the East Riding we probably have the finest road cycling routes in the country.
"All right, we're not in France, but something like this really would put East Yorkshire on the map. It would be properly exciting."
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome To Yorkshire, believes the area is now a serious contender for the 2016 event.
He said: "The Tour de France is the most famous bike race in the world and with a worldwide TV audience of about 88 million, it would provide an incredible global showcase for our county.
"Now we need the entire county to get behind the bid, which is why we've launched our Back le Bid campaign – 20,000 people have signed so far but we need more.
"The race would inject millions of pounds into the county's economy and attract thousands of visitors.
"It brought in two million spectators and generated an extra £88 million for London and Kent during its last UK visit in 2007 and I think it could be worth even more to Yorkshire."
The route is still being planned but the proposal is to start in Leeds, weave to the Yorkshire Dales then head east to Scarborough and the coast via York and the North York Moors. After that the tour would head south to Hull and finally to Sheffield.
Top cyclists Mark Cavendish and Ben Swift are backing the bid, as is Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart, himself a keen cyclist.
He said: "The Tour de France is one of the world's top sporting events and hosting it in our county would be fantastic."
As well as boosting the economy and showcasing the East Riding, the intention is to encourage more people to take up cycling, inspired by the visit of the best riders the sport had to offer.
Mr Goldthorpe said: "When things like the Big G cycle race come to Beverley it really does boost cycling.
"Last year I had someone in the shop who said he'd been watching the Tour on television and decided to buy a bike. Maybe people can't take up the sport to quite the same standard but it's available to anyone.
"It's something people can do on their own or with friends or family.
"When people take up cycling it's like they've found all these roads they never knew existed.
"It's funny, sometimes people come in and they're looking at a road bike but they say 'it's flat so we won't need gears'.
"Well, you go out to Fridaythorpe or Thixendale and tell me it's flat."
To support Back le Bid, visit www.yorkshire.com/back-the-bid