Yorkshire was the word on the lips of thousands of journalists, organisers and cycling fans at the official confirmation of the route of the 2014 Tour de France this week.
The district is joined on the 2014 route by Harrogate’s twin town Bagnéres de Luchon on July 22.
Mayor of Harrogate, Coun Mike Newby said: “This is the icing on the cake for Le Grand Départ in Harrogate.
“The fact that the world’s best cyclists, who have sprinted to a finish on Parliament Street in Harrogate, will two weeks later do the same on Luchon’s High Street brings the two towns together as never before”.
A regular location for Le Tour, Luchon is surrounded by challenging climbs such as Col de Tourmalet, Col de Mente and Port de Bales.
Harrogate man Dennis Richards is leading the renewing of the twinning link.
Revealing that Harrogate Band are booked to play at Luchon’s Festival of Flowers next year, Mr Richards said: “This is such an appropriate decision by the Tour de France organisers.
“Harrogate is very special for all sorts of reasons as we know.
“The same is true of Luchon. Links with Luchon are rapidly expanding - the St John Fisher School cycling team were wonderful ambassadors for Harrogate in Luchon in September and we are delighted that Luchon pupils will visit at Easter – the first student link between the two towns for 20 years or more.”
The Welcome to Yorkshire team announced at the ceremony that the first stage of Le Tour 2014, which passes Harewood and Ripon en route to Harrogate from Millennium Square in Leeds will be populated with a series of road signs, to ensure visiting cyclists and motorists can follow the route for years to come.
Approximately 50 of the permanent signs will be used to guide people around the route with most of new signs in place by early 2014.
And cyclists from across the country and beyond will be invited to try the route before the riders arrive.
A Welcome to Yorkshire statement read: “Early plans are being drawn up for a sportive which would see cyclists riding the route of the Grand Départ in the weeks before the professional peloton.
“There are also plans to use the visit of the Tour de France as a catalyst to attract more international cycle races to Yorkshire as part of the Grand Départ Legacy programme.”
Rudding Park Hotel in Harrogate has launched its Ride le Route experience, combining the challenge of cycling the first stage with a stay at the hotel.
The experience will include a two night stay, a cyclist’s goodie bag, yellow jersey and bike check.
Peter Banks, Managing Director of Rudding Park said
“We want to get behind the excitement of the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire and show our support.
“Rudding Park recently signed up to a Cycle to Work Scheme for our employees and by making a donation to the National Cycling Charity we hope to help encourage as many people as possible to get cycling, now and in the future.”
Reporters Alex Johnston and Ed White will be filming a special PressBox on the route of Le Tour in November.
See this week’s Harrogate Advertiser for more coverage and reaction, as well as full route details