The 2014 Tour de France will start in Yorkshire, England, race organizers ASO announced on Friday.
It will be the first time that the Tour has started in the United Kingdom since 2007, and its first visit to Yorkshire.
Other cities in the running to host the Grand Depart were Edinburgh, Scotland, and Florence, Italy.
Yorkshire will host the first two days racing on the 5th and 6th July before the Tour heads south for a third stage in southern England, with a finish in London. Leeds will be the host city of the Grand Depart and will hold a festival of cycling and the arts to coincide with the arrival of the Tour. Full details of the stages will be revealed at a joint news conference in Leeds and Paris on 17 January.
Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France Director visited Yorkshire several times and has seen how cycling has grown since the Tour started in London.
“Since the resounding success of the Grand Départ in London in 2007, we were very keen to return to the United Kingdom. Bradley Wiggins’ historical victory last July and the enormous crowds that followed the cycling events in the streets of London during the Olympic Games encouraged us to go back earlier than we had initially planned," he said in a statement issued by the Yorkshire organisers.
"Yorkshire is a region of outstanding beauty, with breathtaking landscapes whose terrains offer both sprinters and attackers the opportunity to express themselves. We have encountered a phenomenal desire from the Yorkshire team to welcome the Tour de France and have no doubt that passion and support will be particularly evident for the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014.”
Yorkshire fought hard to secure the Tour de France Grand Depart, publicizing their bid in Britain and France during this year's race and then outbidding their rivals with a financial offer close to four million pounds.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the agency behind the county’s bid, said: "Today is a proud day for everyone involved in the bid and the county as a whole. We are honoured that the race organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), have selected Yorkshire to be the host location of the 2014 Grand Départ."
Yorkshire is one of the traditional centres of cycling in Britain. Eight-time Tour de France stage winner Barry Hoban is from Wakefield, while Malcolm Elliot is from Sheffield. Current Yorkshire-born pro riders include Ben Swift (Team Sky), Russell Downing (NetApp-Endura) and track Olympian Ed Clancy.
Leeds hosted the Leeds International Classic one-day race between 1994 and 1996, which was part of the UCI World Cup series. Max Sciandri won the race in 1995.