As Yorkshire bade a fond au revoir to the Tour de France, at least for this year, many were hailing the Yorkshire Grand Départ as the greatest ever.
Millions of spectators lined the routes of the two Yorkshire stages and Tour Director Christian Prudhomme, said: “I have seen that the people of Yorkshire love the Tour. I can see the Tour in their hearts, and in their eyes. For that, I say thank you to Welcome to Yorkshire, and to everyone in Yorkshire who has made this Grand Départ so very, very special.
“Bernard Hinault said to me, it is the first time in 40 years on a bike that he has seen crowds like we saw this weekend. When you said you would deliver the grandest Grand Départ it was the truth, you have raised the bar for all future hosts of the Tour de France.”
Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “When we first bid for the Grand Départ of the Tour de France, I promised Christian Prudhomme that we would deliver the grandest Grand Départ the Tour has ever seen. It gives me immense pride to say that we made good on that promise, and the success of this spectacular event will welcome an incredible new chapter in the history of Yorkshire.
“Millions of people both right here at the roadside and in homes all over the world have seen the magnificence of Yorkshire, and our beautiful county has done itself proud once again.”
The economic impact of hosting the world’s greatest cycling race has been conservatively estimated to be worth £100m to the Yorkshire economy.
Although Verity added: “We might have to revise those economic impact figures after the scenes we have witnessed this weekend. Undoubtedly, it will give a huge boost to the Yorkshire economy but it’s the images of Yorkshire people, Yorkshire pride and Yorkshire’s outstanding landscapes beamed around the world which have been simply priceless for the county.”
Simon Cotton, General Manager of Cedar Court Harrogate, told CN: “We had the absolute pleasure of hosting three of the teams this weekend – the Russian Team Katusha, the Austrailian ORICA GreenEDGE and French team COFIDIS, while our Huddersfield hotel was home to Mark Cavendish and the Omega Pharma Quick-Step team – and I can say without a doubt it has been the most exciting week we have had at the hotel in many years.
“From the second that the first team, the Russian Team Katusha, arrived en-mass with their branded vehicles and extensive kit (including their own washing machine!) the buzz has been palpable.
“As a Yorkshire company it has been a delight to welcome so many people to the county – we had spectators from all over the world on our doorstep this weekend, as well as the eyes of the world’s media on us – and I am delighted that Yorkshire has made such a great show of itself around the globe. We’re very proud. And with great bike storage and bike wash facilities, and cyclist friendly packed lunches at each of our four 4-star hotels and the 5-star Cedar Court Grand in York, hopefully we’ve put ourselves on the map for cyclists too.
“The only question left is, was the winner of the Tour de France 2014 one of our guests?”
Dr James Hopker, Conference organiser and Lecturer from the University of Kent’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, told CN the World Congress of Cycling Science had been held at Leeds Metropolitan University to coincide with the Grand Depart.
“The timing and the buzz of the Tour attracted a wide range of scientists and cycling coaches, including representatives from the majority of the Tour’s professional cycling teams. We were extremely pleased to be able to host such a timely forum for discussions on all aspects of cycling science and hope that the scientific work presented will have real world impact for the future.”
While Stage Three from Cambridge to London passed off without the drama of a sprint crash, the rivalry – and dare we say a little arrogance – with Yorkshire was palpable in a London Evening Standard Leader column which said: “Yorkshire was of course lovely as a starting point for the Tour de France, but it is fair to say that the race takes on a momentous quality once it reaches London. There’s nothing like the backdrop of Big Ben to give any event star quality.”
Air charter broker, Air Partner, meanwhile, was selected to fly the Tour de France participants from London to France for the next stage of the race, 8 July, from London City airport to Le Touquet in France.
Clive Chalmers, Air Partner’s UK Director of Commercial Jets, said: “Following a full day of racing on 7 July, there was a very tight turnaround time to get the riders and officials over to France for the next stage to start on 8 July. With no direct scheduled flights from London to Le Touquet, organisers looked to alternative solutions.”
This is the fourth time that stages of the Tour de France have been held in the UK, but only the second time the country has hosted ‘Le Grand Départ’. The race was officially launched by Prince William and Prince Harry at Harewood House in Yorkshire on 5 July, as a result of UK riders winning the race in 2012 and 2013.
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