FOR Cambridge, Essex and London – but most of all Yorkshire – hosting the first stages of the world’s greatest bicycle race was a freewheeling success.
The News revealed this morning that Portsmouth leaders are in talks about the city hosting a stage of the Tour de France in 2018.
Stage three of last year’s tour went from Cambridge to London, but Yorkshire, which hosted the first two legs, was the big winner.
A report estimates the race generated £128m for the county’s economy, compared to around £30m for the southern counties.
The success was put down to the northern towns pulling out all the stops to welcome the tour and line the streets.
In Otley, near Leeds, all 19 pubs in the town translated their names into French to welcome the race.
Councillor Sandy Kay, who represents Otley ward for Leeds City Council, said: ‘In my community there was a real economic benefit felt.
‘It was a summer where everybody felt good. There was a wellbeing benefit and we saw a significant increase in the number of people going out on their bikes.’
He said it had given local authorities more motivation to install new cycleways.
Cllr Kay added: ‘We have got the Tour de Yorkshire coming this year.
‘The greatest benefit was the wellbeing. Many people have said it was the best weekend they have had for a long time. It made people happy.
‘In my own community the bed and breakfasts did well and have continued to get international visitors.’