Cycling: 2014 Tour de France will start in England


Leeds will host the start of the 2014 Tour de France. The Tour heads through Yorkshire on 5 and 6 July, before moving south for a third stage, finishing in London. The race last visited the UK in 2007, when London hosted a prologue ahead of a road stage from the capital to Canterbury, attracting no less than two-million spectators. Yorkshire was preferred to Florence and Edinburgh to host the most prestigious event in cycling. It will be the fourth time the Tour has visited Britain after previous visits in 1974 and 1994.

Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, hosted the 2010 start, while the 2012 race started in Liege in Belgium and next year's 100th race will begin in Corsica. Full details of the route will be announced at a news conference in Leeds and Paris on 17 January. Leeds will also host a festival of cycling and the arts to coincide with the arrival of the Tour.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the agency behind the county's bid, said: "Today is a proud day for everyone involved in the bid and the county as a whole. We are honoured that the race organisers have selected Yorkshire to be the host location of the 2014 Grand Depart. It will mean that, less than two years after hosting the Olympics, the British public can look forward to another of the world's biggest sporting events coming to the country. I am in no doubt they will come to Yorkshire in their millions, lining the length and breadth of the route to cheer on the champions of world cycling and our home grown British heroes."

Race director Christian Prudhomme said: "Since the resounding success of the Grand Depart in London in 2007, we were very keen to return to the United Kingdom. Bradley Wiggins's historic victory last July and the enormous crowds that followed the cycling events in the streets of London during the Olympic Games encouraged us to go back earlier than we had initially planned."

You can already bet on next year's Tour de France, here are the outright odds for the top five favourites at Bet365:

Alberto Contador - 10/11
Chris Froome - 11/4
Bradley Wiggins - 15/2
Andy Schleck - 10/1
Cadel Evans - 16/1

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