CYCLING groups in Sheffield are rallying behind a bid that could bring the Tour de France to the city.
The first two days of racing are held in a new location outside France every two years and a proposed Yorkshire route for 2016 would start in Leeds city centre, head to the Yorkshire Dales, then to Scarborough and the coast, via York and the North York Moors, before dropping south to Hull and finally to Sheffield.
Gareth Dent, of Sheffield Cyclists Touring Club, said: “The Tour de France is an outstanding spectacle and would bring thousands of visitors to Sheffield.
“Local cyclists already know the Peak District has some of the best cycling roads in the country and the Tour would put Sheffield on the map as a touring holiday start location.”
Tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire is leading the bid to bring the world’s largest annual sporting event to the county, although there will be competition. Scotland is preparing its own submission and there may be other bids.
A high-profile delegation from the organisers will visit Yorkshire in May to begin the process of deciding who will host the 2016 Grand Depart. Details will be given of the proposed route, hotels and other facilities.
Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity said the aim was to show that Yorkshire was “passionate” about hosting the race and offering “the best overseas leg in Tour de France history.
“If we get this right as a county, with everyone working together pooling resources and expertise, this will be Yorkshire’s Commonwealth Games moment.
“It would have a similar impact on the county as the Games did in Manchester, showcasing Yorkshire to the world and putting it on the map as a dynamic place to visit, live and do business.”
The racing would be spread over two days, covering 180km a day with Leeds hosting a festival of music and entertainment.
The Tour fills hotel rooms and brings guaranteed TV coverage, which raises the profile of locations. It was last held in the UK in 2007 when London and Kent hosted the opening stages.
Cycle Sheffield spokesman Simon Geller said: “Having the Tour De France routed through South Yorkshire would be a terrific boost for the area, both in terms of publicity and the local economy.
“Although a sports event like this doesn’t have an awful lot to do with ordinary people riding bikes, it does inspire people to get out and try cycling and that can only be a good thing.”
Steve Marsden, Cyclist Touring Club cycle champion for the area, said: “Having been an avid follower of the Tour and know many people who watch it with passion and excitement, I personally think this would be a fantastic opportunity for Sheffield and Yorkshire to have the Tour run through our fine region.
“However, I feel we need to be educated on the passion of the Tour so we can embrace it into our hearts like the French.
“We do need to understand that we might be home a little later than usual that evening or you might have to take a different route to get home.
“I am sure this would encourage people to get on their bikes and prove that we are a cycle town!”