It’s official: The Tour de France, the world’s biggest free-to-watch sporting event, is coming to Calderdale in 2014.
Details of the stages for the Yorkshire Grand Depart in 18 months time were announced at a press conference in Paris on Thursday morning.
And Stage Two, which will take place on Sunday, July 6, will take the 200-strong peloton from York to Sheffield, via Calderdale, bringing thousands of visitors into the district.
The route, which features six significant climbs in the final 60 kilometres, runs west towards Keighley, before tackling the cobbled ascent of Haworth High Street.
It then turns south, heading over Oxenhope Moor and descending through Pecket Well into Hebden Bridge and heading along the Burnley Road to Mytholmroyd.
A right turn will take the race up the five-mile Cragg Vale climb - the longest continuous gradient in England - onto Blackstone Edge, before dropping into Ripponden and the mile-long, 10 per cent slog up Ripponden Bank.
Barkisland, West Vale and Elland are next on the agenda before crossing into Kirklees on the way to the iconic climb of Holme Moss, above Holmfirth, on the way to the finish in South Yorkshire.
Stage One of Le Tour, which saw its first ever British winner in 2012 when the multiple-Olympic medallist Bradley Wiggins triumphed in Paris, runs from Leeds to Harrogate via the Yorkshire Dales.
Stage Three runs from Cambridge to London, with a finish on The Mall.
The Yorkshire Grand Depart, masterminded by tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire, learned before Christmas that its bid to host the race had been successful.
It will be the fourth time, and the first since 2007, that Le Tour has visited England.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “The routes of the Grand Départ will showcase some of Yorkshire’s iconic cycling climbs and the county’s stunning land and cityscapes. The peloton will be technically tested as they tackle some challenging terrain in what are sure to be two exhilarating days of racing in the county. The British public’s response since the news broke that the 2014 Grand Départ would be hosted in Yorkshire has been overwhelming and I am sure the route announcements today will encourage even more people to come to the county to experience for themselves the phenomenon that is Le Tour.”
Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France director, said: “Yorkshire is a region of outstanding beauty, with breath-taking landscapes whose terrains offer both sprinters and attackers the opportunity to express themselves. We have encountered a phenomenal desire to welcome the Tour de France and no doubt that popular acclaim will be particularly in evidence over there. The Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2007 in London, the first ever organised in the United
Kingdom, will remain unforgettable. We are very glad to return, seven years after, to this magnificent city.”