Yorkshire TdF 2014




2014TdFYorksWill the Big Gamble Pay Off?

The 2014 Tour de France WILL start in Yorkshire - so now it HAS to live up to Welcome to Yorkshire’s promises and predictions. And some of these are going to be pretty tough to achieve.

The reported offer to ASO for the rights was high; apparently the highest - “Yorkshire fought hard to secure the Tour de France Grand Depart, publicising their bid in Britain and France during this year's race and then outbidding their rivals with a financial offer close to four million pounds.” Link | ASO | WtY

But the revenue expected to be generated is very impressive - “£100m coup as Yorkshire gears up to welcome Tour de France “ Yorkshire Post . However this estimate is £50 million more than Scotland expected from their bid. Still £50 million is a pretty good return and would surely be very well accepted by the tourism industry. Only if the extra revenue generated sinks down below, say, £10 million will serious questions be asked. So there is still a big margin for error ...

More has it comes in below ...

Update: with the climbing costs the revenue generated now needs to be at least £37 million to be worthwhile (= costs + a £10 million regional income boost)


Au Revoir
Dateline: 8-Jul-2014
With that last big unknown - the weather - being kind the whole jigsaw of the Tour in Yorkshire finally fell into place. The sunshine made the aerial shots look like a day long travel commercial for the dales, moors, villages and landmarks of the region. Even the modest streets of Sheffield looked like some cycling epic’s film set. If this Grand Depart does not bring enough new business as a result then no future venue ever will.

Over to you Utrecht ...


IMA22974wJourney Almost Over
Dateline: 27-Jun-2014
With just six days to the Team Presentation in Leeds the long road to Yorkshire’s Grand Depart is almost at an end. For those directly involved in the three week long race the important action has yet to start. But for those hoping for, bidding for and then organising these British stages the work is almost complete.

Clearly nothing will ever be perfect - and given the chance I’m sure that the team presentation would have been one of the things done differently. But overall all that could be done has been done. We just need some help from the uncontrollable weather and to avoid any random, unpredictable acts by animals and humans to end on a high note.

See you en route ...

Getting In On The Act - Part 3
Dateline: 19-Jun-2014
Lacking any ‘elf and safety laughs recently the North Yorkshire County Council decided they needed to join in the fun of the Tour with this story picked up in today’s Daily Mail -  Council bosses have ordered a town on Yorkshire to take down home-knitted Tour de France bunting after claiming the weight of the wool was causing streetlights to bend.
Residents from Masham, in the Yorkshire Dales, spent months knitting more than 20,000 jerseys in the Tour's signature colours of yellow, green and white with red dots to hang between lamp-posts.
But yesterday workers arrived from North Yorkshire County Council to taken them down, because officials worried the metal poles were 'leaning' under the weight of the wool after it got wet.

Getting In On The Act - Part 2
Dateline: 17-Jun-2014
Today’s media was making a big play of yesterday’s announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge plus Prince Harry will attend the  Grand Depart in Yorkshire. So that’s another security issue that will make getting to see the start close up even more fraught. In the past it has been quite possible to mix with Tour riders without any special security. The Portsmouth stage of the 1994 Tour was an example where Big Mig simply rode up to sign on through a technical area that was totally unrestricted. And I do remember a wet stage start in France where Paolo Bettini came up to get his bike from behind the group of us sheltering under a shop awning. Yet I don’t remember riders or officials having many problems. Sadly that’s a situation that seems extremely unlikely for Leeds in 2014. Is everyone now really a security threat to everyone else? Are we all in so much more danger today? Or is it that we are considered to be highly dangerous by others? Let’s hope not ...

But the royal visitors are not the only news - next weekend’s Countryfile programme will be in Yorkshire to cover the Tour. So expect interviews covering the effects of the race on the local sheep and dry stone walls ... Hopefully the Tour caravan and the riders will get through without hitting any of either.

FlyingPigYorksGetting In On The Act
Dateline: 11-Jun-2014
As the big day approaches more and more Tour related items are appearing for sale. Some of the least attractive ones spotted just today include -

£45 Altura Yorkshire Tour jerseys on sale for £75 to £90
Free TdF brochures from Barnsley Council on sale for £15 each
Handmade Tdf Yorkshire Bookmarks for £10
Two postcards showing Stages 1 and 2 for just £16 (or single cards for £9!)
A week in a Yorkshire Dales cottage for £900
and an ASO Press Kit - from Holland - for £30

Meanwhile the official merchandise supplier at the Welcome to Yorkshire shop has run out of Altura jerseys - but is promising that new stocks will be available between 31-Jul and 31-Aug 2014! And the number of available seats for Thursday’s team presentation event has increased since last week - with £72.75 tickets now on sale alongside the long-standing £50 and £60 offerings.

Update: 13-Jun-2014
The range of available tickets for the team presentation event continues to increase - as £94 tickets join those being offered at £72.75, £60 and £50. Not many ticket touts will be making a killing on this one. However the official Yorkshire Tour artist should do all right if he can sell his prints of the official Tour painting. They are now being offered in two sizes at just £1,100 and £650 each (that’s £1.76 million for the print run).

Time Marches On
Dateline: 5-Jun-2014
Just four weeks to the start of the actual Tour events and the pre-race activity is picking up. Other sports are even getting involved with Halifax Harriers holding a 10 mile running race this Sunday that goes up and down the longest climb on the Tour’s Yorkshire route - Cragg Road. Despite its length the climb will not present a challenge to any of the pros since I seem to remember this climb forming part of the Blackstone Edge road race in the 1960’s. Then it was just part of a circuit and was tackled by the local amateurs two or three times during a race.

Instead the biggest challenge at Cragg Vale will be for the spectators who are trying to get there. Looking at how many people have been out spotting the pros on training rides there are going to be some very big turnouts. Places like Haworth Main Street are going to be packed no matter what the weather does. And even the local TV news crew were there last week just to catch a glimpse of Chris Froome training over the setts (the Yorkshire name for pavé). The best way of getting to Haworth on race day is probably by steam train from Keighley. But Keighley is also on the route so the journey may involve parking at say Bingley or Shipley and getting another train that connects. Failing that it’s walk or bike - and some councils are advising that car drivers could end up parking 5 miles away from their vantage points.

Now there could easily be over a million spectators road side over the Tour weekend - especially with Yorkshire having a population of around five million and that being mainly in the West Riding. Some estimates predict that the vast majority who will be watching are going to be locals. This may well be true given that e-mails offering discounted hotel deals for the Tour stage towns are already circulating. Hopefully the Yorkshire tourism chiefs will have allowed for this in their £100 million in benefits predictions. If not they are going to have to come up with some very creative accounting once the Tour circus has moved on.

ps No change in the team presentation status - plenty of the £50 and £60 cheap seats remain unsold.

TdYorks-1More Issues ..
Dateline: 25-Apr-2014
As the race date gets nearer more froth bubbles up. Tonight the local news included stories of fans complaining about paying up to £8 extra through team presentation booking fees (on top of the high ticket prices), farmers complaining that their dry-stone walls could be damaged by Tour spectators and Giant-Shimano pros commenting on the number of sheep seen during their recent training ride around the route. They also asked who built all those walls - but found that nobody knows!

Don’t worry Gromit it’ll be alright on the day ...

Update: 26-May-2014
Today plenty of team presentation tickets remain unsold. And it seems as if the (more) expensive seats that are booked may have gone to corporate or pubic service big wigs and their guests. Meanwhile fans are reporting that roadside parking will be banned by some councils, official car parks will be increasing charges and some fields are being re-branded as expensive camp sites yet lack any facilities. On a brighter note the presentation to volunteers in Leeds this week was well received with a full attendance.

More Progress?
Dateline: 23-Apr-2014
Today you should have received your e-mail, if you registered, confirming the ticket costs / availability for the Team Presentation at the
First Direct Arena in Leeds.

To quote “For the first time ever the presentation of the teams, featuring some of the greatest names in cycling, will be part of a unique show with live entertainment – making it the biggest in the history of the Tour de France. Tickets are priced at £45, £55, £65 and £85”.

So that looks like one less entry in my diary for July. And I thought it was a bike race that everyone could see - silly me ...

Update: 24-Apr-2014 You should by now have had at least 3 e-mails from Yorkshire.com encouraging you to buy tickets. But given the complaints raised yesterday by fans it looks like the target of the marketing push should really be corporate sponsors with big entertainment budgets.

Dateline: 18-Apr-2014
Yesterday Cycling Weekly carried a Tour In The UK supplement with the strap line Your comprehensive guide to the big race. But I think every fan is going to expect a lot more ... CW’s extremely lightweight 16 page effort features J E James ads on every A5 size page so limiting the space for facts about the three TdF stages to the bare minimum. And considering how few facts there are it’s disappointing that there are some rather obvious errors.

On Stage 2 just three places are listed as good places to watch - one being Haworth. A place described as Once home to 1965 world road race champion Tom Simpson. I think not. And stage highlight Holme Moss is not included as being a good place to watch. Also the quote from Malcolm Elliott was probably meant to read slam on the brakes. Similarly the crowds going to the start should, I think, still head for the Knavesmire Racecourse. CW’s comprehensive guide says the stage start is at Clifford’s Tower - but everyone else thinks that’s just a passing landmark in the neutralised section.

For Stage 3 the guide does give the start as Parker’s Piece (good) but also gives a start time of 12:15 - while Cambridge Council gives 12 noon. If the Council are correct then the real start could be at 12:10 as it says in the guide - but then 20 mins to cover the 3.5 km to reach Great Shelford at 12:30 seems way out.

However at the official website the route map for Stage 3 now goes all the way to the finish .. progress.

More Costs Emerge - Part 2
Dateline: 25-Mar-2014
Local media have quoted an internal report for Leeds City Council which gives the contract cost for traffic management, stewards, toilets, barriers, medical support and signage as being almost £4.5 million - some £2.3 million more than original budget. The York media pointing out that York City Council is one of 11 partners of Leeds for hosting the Tour and already has a commitment to provide £1.6 million towards the costs.

Other newspapers reported that the parties involved did not understand the scope of the event and had grossly underestimated the amount of resources needed.

TDF Hub 2014 Ltd, the company set up for the Grand Depart, currently has a budget of £27 million, made up of contributions from the Government, Sport UK and 11 partner councils (And apparently the well-staffed TDF Hub team actually paid a third party to design that simplistic logo for them!). All the parties listed as providing funds get their money from our taxes which seems to suggest that there has been no commercial investment in the Tour from any UK businesses. Or, if there has been, then the money has gone to the race organisers, ASO, instead.

Meanwhile York Racecourse web site still has no news about any additional tickets for the start of Stage 2. Similarly the ticket costs / availability for the Team Presentation at the First Direct Arena in Leeds remain undisclosed - and the event is not listed in their calendar. Also the official route map for Stage 3 still stops at Epping Forest with a message saying that the rest of the route is yet to be confirmed.

 So with 101 days to go there is clearly plenty still to do ...

More Costs Emerge
Dateline: 5-Mar-2014
Along with the banners and roadside signs that have started appearing around the route - and the bills have started to come in as well. BBC news
reports that by July local councils will have spent at least £4 million fixing the roads to be used.

Now these roads needed to be repaired some time soon - but probably not out of this years budget. So the £4 million cannot be reasonably added to Yorkshire’s costs for hosting the race. But coming at the same time as local councils are having to cut services they will only provide ammunition for upset residents. Many of whom are just releasing that roads could be cleared and closed for anything up to 8 hours on race day.

At least the Brownlee brothers were happy -  "Lots of the roads up here are pretty bad, but it's been fantastic to ride on the roads where the Tour is going. Over the last six months, we've seen them putting new tarmac down, and we've enjoyed riding on it."

ps York Racecourse web site still has no news about additional free tickets for the start of Stage 2 two days after the date it planned to provide an update.

Fast Response
Dateline: 23-Jan-2014
Local TV reported that the start of Stage 2 from York will also require fans to have tickets. And by 13:50 today the York Press were reporting that all the 20,000 free tickets to watch the start from the Racecourse had been snapped up in just four and a half hours. Another allocation of tickets may be made. An announcement is planned for 3-Mar-2014.

More Details Emerge
Dateline: 17-Jan-2014
Coming back to the topic after a deliberate break it seems that the whole Grand Depart project has grown like Topsy. Everything from road signs to knitting clubs seem to be getting the Tour treatment. Even some little used back roads are benefiting from extra care and attention to bring them up to a standard suitable for a world sporting event.

However it is not all good news. The team presentation has now been confirmed for the Thursday before the start in Leeds’ new First Direct Arena. So unlike most recent team intros it will be indoors and fans will need to buy tickets. The exact amount is yet to be confirmed but whatever the ticket price this news may dampen Yorkshire enthusiasm that has so far been encouraged by the offer of a free spectacle. [The definition of a Yorkshireman has been quoted as being a mean Scotsman].

Still nothing is going to stop the grand plan now and ASO are even talking up the prospects for an annual World Tour event in Yorkshire starting in 2015. That could be one idea that is put on hold until the results of 2014 are clearer - especially the financial cost-benefit for Yorkshire tourism overall.

Meanwhile Stage 3 from Cambridge to London is looking somewhat neglected. According to the official website the route to London currently ends just by Epping Forest; in fact near the Wake Arms roundabout - with its conveniently placed Miller & Carter Steakhouse. So getting through the traffic to Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace on a Monday could be a bigger headache than all the rest of the 2014 route. And Burgermeister Boris may be less than enthusiastic with a minor role this time around. Update 22-Jan-2014 the route map on a different web site now goes all the way to the finish - so perhaps the route is now finalised.

We Need More ...
Dateline: 25-Sep-2013
According to reports on the BBC local news North Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner [Julia Mulligan] has said that the current provision for policing at the Tour will leave her with a £1m bill. But after this week’s meeting with the organisers the UK Sports Minister [Hugh Robertson] replied saying that the existing funds provided a "very generous grant" - significantly more than other sports events. The budget had been agreed and no more money would be allocated. Trouble a’t mill ...

Cost Estimates Rise With Workloads
Dateline: 23-Aug-2013
The organising committee that is now established under the TDF 2014 Ltd banner has representation from the Yorkshire and Cambridge local authorities, British Cycling, Transport for London and UK Sport. And their estimate of costs has now moved up £21 million. A climbing figure that is gradually cutting away the potential profit margin. A profit that the event needs to generate to justify its backers’ promises. The financial problem is that the Tour’s benefit could be claimed to be almost anything - £100 million, £50 million or £20 million. Which one to select seems to depend entirely on personal opinions - and guess work. And with the project now being past the point of no return there is nothing to stop costs escalating before the start - which is just 315 days (and 17 hours) away.

Since there is nothing that can now be done by the average fan to change things the best approach is to plan where to see the action - and pray for good weather. And there are already some GPS route plans online for Stages 1 and 2 if you need to check exactly where to set up camp ...

IMQ41815_300Twelve Months To Go
Dateline: 4-Jul-2013
Welcome to Yorkshire and a local BBC news crew have been checking out the big event in Nice - both trying to build awareness for next year with the news crew taking a break from reporting bad news from local back streets. Despite all the hoopla most people in Yorkshire only seem vaguely aware that there will be some sort of bike race in their area. There have even been stories of B&B owners who could not understand why they had so many bookings for early July 2014 ...

The main story to come out of WtY is that they will be promoting tourism events from March 2014 onwards - even though any evidence of them using money from UK Sport this way could well backfire. Gary Verity (boss of WtY) was at the Otley Town Centre races last night but did not expand on his promise to support other cycling events / facilities in his brief interview.

Meantime the Tour publicity caravan is travelling ahead of the race around France with four Yorkshire Grand Depart 2014 vehicles - staffed by crews that all seemed to be French ...

Now For The True Costs?
Dateline: 20-Mar-2013
While the main news was focussed on the UK budget announcements - and in Europe the possibility of Cyprus being bankrolled by Russia - the local Yorkshire news revealed that Government had today agreed to provide £10 million towards the cost of staging the 2014 Tour de France.

Now back in April 2012 Berlin withdrew from the TdF bidding because the 10 million euros estimated cost was too high. Then it was claimed that neither of the UK options - Edinburgh and Yorkshire - would need more than around 6 million euros. Now the Government have been convinced to add 11.6 million euros to whatever Welcome to Yorkshire already had when they signed contracts with ASO in December. All of sudden the amount of extra revenue needed to justify the project has been pushed that much higher. And it remains to be seen if the strings attached to this reluctant funding will have any impact on the plans - or expect repayment from those ever elusive profits ...

Update: 21-Mar-2013
Report from the Yorkshire Post at 12:23 - “Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity said preparations were going well and he welcomed the news of a £10 million Government cash injection. He said: “The local authorities are still putting a huge amount of resource into this but it’s important also we’ve got the bit from central Government now to mean that we can absolutely maximise the event so that we have the grandest Grand Depart that we can possibly have and the maximum economic impact. “It ticks a lot of the Government’s boxes in terms of economic growth, in terms of rebalancing the north-south economy and making sure that we have a continuing legacy from the London 2012 games.”

So just how big is the total WtY budget - if yesterday’s £10 million from government is “the bit”?

Meanwhile British Cycling are building up for the announcement of the 2013 Tour of Britain route this evening - and have made no mention of the Tour de France funding news. Hopefully they are planning to co-operate with WtY despite backing the wrong candidate last year.

A report today from the Yorkshire Post states - “In a letter to Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan, Sports Minister Hugh Robertson attacked the way Welcome to Yorkshire hopes to use funding for the event to market Yorkshire on the world stage. “UK Sport cannot provide significant amounts of funding for the Welcome to Yorkshire tourism strategy,” Mr Robertson wrote. “This is entirely outside of their scope, which is to deliver first class sporting events in the UK. Neither they, nor I, are convinced this event needs an expensive marketing strategy.”

While another Yorkshire Post section states - “... Hugh Robertson criticised the bid for failing to outline how the event’s later leg in Cambridge and London would be organised.” and “Mr Verity ... denied claims by Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, that he had not fully discussed policing costs for the Tour.”

Fans will recall how the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police famously stopped the Tour of Britain en-route and forced the field to literally “tour” through the county just because of late paperwork. Since then national tour organisers have tried to avoid the region. Gary Verity and his team were probably unaware of this issue but fans simply hoped that attitudes had now improved.

Elliott’s Assessment
Dateline: 24-Jan-2013
Yorkshireman and 1980’s Grand Tour rider, Malcolm Elliott is interviewed about the route into Sheffield in the
Yorkshire Post ... and the full Grand Depart web site is now online; with just 526 days to go.

2014TdFYorkMapLe News Conference
Dateline: 17-Jan-2013
Starting with a road stage from Leeds to Harrogate - suitable for Mark Cavendish to get in first for the green and / or yellow jersey - gives the riders a not-too-demanding day one (for pros). But that is followed by a tougher stage from York via eight Pennine climbs to Sheffield - where the standings may well change; even though the time gaps should still be modest. This is much as was expected but the missing link - the route back to France - is now announced as a stage from Cambridge to London, connecting with a Eurostar trip south.

Stage 1 - Leeds, Harewood, Otley, Ilkley, Skipton, Kettlewell, Aysgarth, Hawes, Reeth, Leyburn, Ripon, Harrogate (190km) map
Stage 2 - York, Knaresborough, Silsden, Keighley, Haworth, Hebden Bridge, Elland, Huddersfield, Holmfirth, Sheffield (200km) map
Stage 3 - Cambridge University, Epping Park, Olympic Park, The Mall London (?? km)

The Look North press corps will now be on their way back to Leeds for tonight’s follow-up presentation in the city centre. In the evening the Leeds Nuit du Tour had a crowd of thousands watching in the snow while the great and good arrived for a civic reception. The Look North live reports were a bit chaotic but the entertainment and fireworks kept things interesting.

Update: 18-Jan-2013
Despite the dampening effect of the Lance Armstrong interview in the USA the French and Belgian press seemed happy and impressed with their guided trip around part of Stage 2 - plus a second reception, this time at the York Guildhall.

The Night Before
Dateline: 16-Jan-2013
The BBC’s sports reporter for Look North was in Paris tonight reporting that there would be a news conference tomorrow - following the BBC’s current thinking that it’s news to say that there is going to be some news later. Tomorrow should see some details of the UK stages for 2014. Meanwhile another reporter was at a team launch in Ghent just to ask Mark Cavendish (and Tom Boonen) for some comments!

La Nuit du Tour
Dateline: 9-Jan-2013
Next week the Town Hall on the Headrow in Leeds will be the backdrop for an evening of fireworks, entertainment and some famous names appearing as part of the joint announcement - with Paris - of the 2014 TdF Grand Départ stages. So book next Thursday [17th January] for an hour of Tour de France preparations starting from 6pm - or at least look out for the online reports.

FlyingPigYorksASO Welcome In Yorkshire
Dateline: 14-Dec-2012
Yorkshire will host the first two days racing on the 5th and 6th July before the Tour heads south for a third stage in southern England, with a finish in London. Leeds will be the host city of the Grand Depart and will hold a festival of cycling and the arts to coincide with the arrival of the Tour. Full details of the stages will be revealed at a joint news conference in Leeds and Paris on 17 January.”

Yorkshire TdF 2014





Future TdF Starts
Yorkshire TdF 2014


External Links