Cycling stars competing in the Tour de France 2014 will pass through Rochdale when the century-old competition returns to British soil.
Starting in Leeds, stage one takes the race via the Yorkshire Dales to Harrogate before passing through Rochdale’s Cragg Vale during stage two from York to Sheffield.
Around a kilometre of the B6138 and the A58 adjacent to Chelburn Reservoir will be covered, and includes a sharp bend to slow the tour down and maximise viewing opportunities.
Stage three will see the La Grande Boucle hopefuls cycle from Cambridge to London, with a finish on The Mall, which hosted London 2012 Olympics cycling events.
Councillor Colin Lambert, Leader of Rochdale Borough Council, welcomed the plans which he believes will help develop the borough.
“The Tour de France is one of the greatest sporting events in the world so it is an honour for Rochdale to host some of the race for the first time,” he said.
“This will be a perfect follow on from last year’s Olympic Torch visit, and of course, this year’s Rugby League World Cup.
“Having the race pass through our borough will have a positive economic benefit on the area, in addition to the new visitors and publicity it will attract.
“Rochdale already has a track record staging some fantastic professional cycle races, including the Tour of Britain, and I think many residents will be excited by this news.”
Rochdale Council officers and colleagues at Calderdale Council held a site visit before Christmas and confirmed the road surface is in good condition to host the race.
The borough’s stage of the race – which is the only part of the first two days of the tour not in Yorkshire – is expected to attract up to 6,000 spectators.
Peter Rowlinson, Director of Planning and Regulation, said the council will work with Link4Life and other partners to maximise the positive impacts of the tour for the area.
“We have some exciting options to explore in terms of the visitor offer, corporate hospitality and maximising stays in our local accommodation,” he said.
“Events like these continue to help raise the profile of cycling, not only as a sport, but for recreation and transport which is welcome news.”
The Tour De France, won in 2012 by Olympic star Sir Bradley Wiggins, last visited the United Kingdom in 2007 when London hosted the time trial and opening stage.
Its first venture onto British soil was 40 years ago for a relatively low-key stage on the Plymouth bypass, followed by successful stages between Brighton, Dover and Portsmouth 20 years after.
Stage one: Leeds – Harewood – Otley – Ilkley – Skipton – Kettlewell – Aysgarth – Hawes – Reeth – Leyburn – Ripon – Harrogate
Stage two: York – Knaresborough – Silsden – Keighley – Haworth – Hebden Bridge – Cragg Vale – Elland – Huddersfield – Holmfirth – Sheffield
Stage three: Cambridge – Epping Forest – the Olympic Park – the Mall