Yorkshire is making an audacious bid to lure the Tour de France away from the rues of Paris and on to our own fair streets.
In York this afternoon Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome To Yorkshire, revealed that the tourism agency is hoping to bring the sporting spectacle here.
Speaking at York Barbican Centre during the Y12 tourism conference, Mr Verity said: “We have, I can announce this morning, formally put in a bid to bring the Tour to Yorkshire. We’re really proud about that.”
He said the idea came in the light of the experience on the other side of the Pennines.
“For three and a half years I’ve had people say to me, ‘Manchester’s this, Manchester’s that, Manchester’s the other’.
“Manchester wasn’t always as confident and edgy, shall we say, as it is now. If you look what happened to them, they bid to host the Olympics and they failed, then they bid for the Commonwealth Games and succeeded, and hosted the Commonwealth Games.
“That was the defining moment that changed the attitude of Manchester – that’s when they became confident and started to do many great things.”
Bringing the Olympic, Commonwealth Games, Champions League Final or Formula 1 Grand Prix to Yorkshire was impossible, Mr Verity said.
“So what can we do? The biggest annual sporting event on the planet is the Tour de France. Eighty-eight million people a day watch it on television. There are 5,000 people who appear every night to sleep in hotels, just from the administration and the journalists who cover it – that’s not fans or spectators.
“It is absolutely massive.”
Tellingly, given the Manchester comparison, the bid is being undertaken in conjunction with Leeds City Council, Marketing Leeds and Leeds City Region. But Welcome To Yorkshire said the route would include York.
“We think it will be massive for the county,” Mr Verity said. “In terms of the seismic shift this will be our Commonwealth Games moment, make no doubt about that.”
Click here to sign the petition to bring the Tour to Yorkshire.