Team Sky's Ben Swift hopes to have a shot at a stage victory when the Tour de France spends two days near his home in Yorkshire in 2014. Swift hails from Rotherham, in central South Yorkshire, which could feature on the second stage, before a transfer south and a stage 3 finish on the Mall, in central London.
Tour de France organisers ASO announced that Yorkshire would host the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France, with Leeds hosting the start of the opening stage. A report on dailymail.co.uk suggests that the road stage will end on the coast in Scarborough after a 200km loop. Stage 2 could start in York and end in Sheffield after crossing the Yorkshire Dales.
Full details of the stages are expected to be unveiled at a joint press conference in Leeds and Paris on January 17.
Swift rode the 2011 Tour de France with Team Sky when he was just 23 and hopes to secure a place in the team in 2014 so he can race on home roads.
“I’m over the moon that the world’s biggest bike race is coming to Yorkshire. Until the "Back le Bid" initiative was launched, I never dreamed the Tour would ever start in my home county. It’s going to be amazing for the region, a massive honour, and I’m sure everyone in Britain is going to embrace this now," Swift said on the Team Sky website.
“You only have to see the crowds that turned out in London in 2007 when the Tour started there, and cycling has boomed in the country since then. The crowds at the Olympics road races were absolutely phenomenal and I'm sure that will be the case again in 2014."
Swift won a stage at the 2011 Tour of California and two stages at the 2012 Tour of Poland but sacrificed much of his road season in an unsuccessful attempt to secure a place in the Great Britain track team for the London Olympics. In the future, he will focus much more on the road and will soon begin his 2013 season at the Tour Down Under in Australia in January.
"It would be one of the highlights of my career if I was able to take part in the 2014 Tour. I'm sure all my friends and family would be out there on the roads watching me, but I’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then to give myself the best chance of selection," he said.
“With the strength of the squad we have at Team Sky, it’s always a massive challenge to be picked for the Tour team, but I’ll definitely be trying to do that and my motivation couldn’t be higher. Chances like this don’t come around very often.”