Tour de France stages could be held in Calderdale in 2014

Bradley Wiggins of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, rides in the pack during the 15th stage of the Tour de France - but could he be in Calderdale in 2014?
Bradley Wiggins of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, rides in the pack during the 15th stage of the Tour de France - but could he be in Calderdale in 2014?
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The world’s most watched sporting event could be coming to Calderdale as soon as 2014.

Tourism group Welcome to Yorkshire want to bring the opening two stages of the Tour de France, known as the Grand Depart, to the region.

And, while organisers are not prepared to reveal a proposed route during the bidding process, there is a strong probably that Calderdale, which boasts England’s longest continuous hill climb in Cragg Road in Cragg Vale, will be involved.

The Tour, which sees over 200 riders race 3,200 km (2,000 miles) over a three week period, is watched by an estimated two billion people.

It is thought the Tour would be worth £300million to the Yorkshire economy.

Welcome to Yorkshire originally signalled their intention to bring the Tour to the UK for 2016, but, following the withdrawl of bids from Barcelona and Florence due to economic problems, Chief Executive Gary Verity said that it could now be held even sooner.

“We’re race ready now,” he said. “The funding and logistics are all in place and we’ve shown the Tour organisers the wonderful coastal, city and rural routes, as well as the varied terrain need to host two stages,

“Economically it’s a no brainer. If you take Leeds as a hypothetical starting point, you’ve got 14 million people within two hours of Yorkshire.

“We’ve got a strong legacy to cycling here and would love to welcome the Tour,” he said.

The Tour began in London in 2007, but included only one stage. The two stages in Yorkshire would cover over 400km (250 miles).

Steven Leigh, Head of Policy and Recreation at the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “I think this would be a very exciting prospect. I would be a challenge for the riders to come to Yorkshire because of the difficult terrain, and it would also bring many tourists to Yorkshire not just from the UK but from across the world.

“People would line the streets throughout the route, it would be fantastic.”

To ‘Back Le Bid’, visit www.yorkshire.com/back-the-bid.