Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Cycling Tour visit 'next big thing'

Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson during a photocall at the Town Hall, Leeds

Sports minister Hugh Robertson has described the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in the UK next year as "the next big thing on the runway".

Mr Robertson was in Leeds to see the preparations for the opening two stages of the world's most famous bike race, which comes to Yorkshire next summer.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to watch the event.

The first stage will start in Leeds and take the riders through the Yorkshire Dales to Harrogate. The next day, the Tour moves to York for a stage which includes some of the best climbs in British cycling and ends in Sheffield.

The third stage moves south, with a start in Cambridge and an end on The Mall in London, before the race moves back over the Channel.

Mr Roberson said: "I genuinely can't think of a time in my adult life, and I was 50 last year, when British sport has been across the board in better shape than it is at the moment.

"That's partially the Olympic effect but sports outside the Olympics are also performing extraordinarily well.

"Next year's Grand Depart, after the Rugby League World Cup this winter, is the next big thing on the runway and we are looking forward to it enormously."

The minister said: "Yorkshire was one of the best performing counties during last year's Olympics and enormous amounts of people turned out to watch the torch. I suspect that was what in some way gave birth to the idea of bidding for this Grand Depart.

"We're absolutely delighted it's coming to Yorkshire. It's a fantastic opportunity to showcase Yorkshire as a county, to showcase its businesses, its tourism offer, everything it's got."

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