Tour de France to take stage to Britain

Last updated 00:48 15/12/2012
KING OF THE ROAD: Bradley Wiggins
KING OF THE ROAD: Bradley Wiggins

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Drawn by cycling's runaway success in Britain, the Tour de France will cross the English Channel again in 2014 to start in the northern English city of Leeds and swing through London before returning to mainland Europe.

Tour organizers announced Friday the second British debut in a decade for cycling's showpiece event, after the "Grand Depart" in London in 2007.

The selection of the county of Yorkshire for the 2014 start also comes after Bradley Wiggins this year became the first Briton to win the Tour in its 109-year history.

"We were very keen to return to the United Kingdom," Tour director Christian Prudhomme said in a statement.

"Bradley Wiggins' historical 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."

Prudhomme suggested the Yorkshire terrain would likely favor sprinters and attackers.

Tour organiSers said preliminary details of the course route for the 2014 race will be presented at a Jan. 17 news conference.

The 100th edition of the Tour in 2013 begins in Corsica on June 29.

British cycling has been on a high in recent months, with strong showings for the national team on the track at the London Olympics and huge fan turnout along the roads for the time-trial and road race events.

The Twitter feed of British Prime Minister David Cameron's office said it was "great to see more cycling success as Yorkshire & London to host 1st stages of 2014 (at)TourdeFrance."

The president of British Cycling, Brian Cookson, said in a statement that he was "thrilled the world's biggest bike race is coming back to this country."

The announcement comes a day after Wiggins announced he wants to defend his Tour title - after previously indicating his focus in 2013 could be on the Giro d'Italia and the Spanish Vuelta.

The home-country start in 2014 could weigh on his thoughts about whether to focus on the Tour that year too.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said he hopes the British capital will reap an economic windfall similar to the estimated 90 million pounds ($145 million) generated by the race through London and the southeast in 2007.

"This year we proved our expertise not just in hosting world class sporting events, but in winning them too, and I am sure Bradley Wiggins and several of his compatriots will be hugely excited at the prospect of the Tour returning to their home streets," the mayor said in a statement. 

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- AP

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