SHEFFIELD is likely to feature on the Tour de France route when the world’s most famous cycle race comes to Yorkshire in 2014, it has been revealed.
Yorkshire’s biggest ever sporting coup is believed to be worth more than £100m to the region’s economy.
The county will host the opening two day stages - called the Grand Depart - which is expected to attract more than a million spectators and a worldwide TV audience of more than two billion viewers.
Leeds will be the official host city of the Grand Départ, with teams unveiled there on July 3 in front of 2,000 journalists, as the riders prepare to set off on their epic three-week journey to Paris on July 5.
Day two is likely to end in Sheffield, it was widely reported today.
The official route has yet to be confirmed, but York, Scarborough and gruelling hill climbs in the Yorkshire Dales and across the North York Moors are also expected to feature.
Race organisers were in the region this week examining possible routes and logistical issues – cyclists, their back-up staff and the Tour entourage will require 5,000 hotel rooms.
It will be the first time cycling’s signature event has been held in England since 2007. More than £100m was generated for London when the capital hosted the Tour’s opening race.
Cycling enthusiasts in Sheffield have expressed their delight after Yorkshire was announced as the starting point for the 2014 Tour de France race.
The route – which could include South Yorkshire – has not yet been announced but enthusiasts are looking forward to the chance of seeing stars such as defending champion and Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins.
They also hope that the high profile the event will bring to cycling will result in improvements to routes and facilities.
Sheffield Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg predicted the Tour could bring major investment to the region.
Yorkshire will host the Grand Départ, the huge and prestigious opening few days racing, of the 2014 event, bringing the iconic race to the north of England for the first time.
Gary Verity, chief executive of tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “It will mean less than two years after hosting the Olympics the British public can look forward to another of the world’s biggest sporting events.”
Yorkshire will host the first two days’ racing on July 5 and 6, 2014, starting from Leeds, before the Tour moves south for a third stage in southern England, with a finish in London.
Keen cyclist Russell Cutts, aged 33, of Norwood, Sheffield, who runs repair and maintenance business Russell’s Bicycle Shed, said: “There has been quite a lot of excitement about this announcement among enthusiasts in Sheffield.
“Sheffield may or may not be on the route but the event will definitely bring the chance to see some professional cyclists who you don’t get to see very often.
“There will be a lot of excitement wherever it goes - particularly with the chance to hopefully see Bradley Wiggins.”
He added: “Publicity and the increased profile of cycling as a result of the Tour might hopefully generate more interest and funding for improved cycling facilities.”
Mr Clegg said: “Huge thanks must go to the team from Welcome to Yorkshire that have secured this prestigious event which will bring in major investment for the entire region.”