Yorkshire Legacy to last long after Le Tour – Thoughts from the Y14 Conference

by Bradley Wilkinson

Sitting in the auditorium, there was a buzz about the air as I sat down for the Y14. Welcome to Yorkshire’s annual conference was packed; full to brim of those keen to hear about the fantastic and ambitious initiatives designed make this great county, my home county, on the map as the UK’s best travel destinations, as well as hearing how the preparations are going for hosting Le Grande Depart, the first stages of this year’s Tour de France.

Things on the cycling front are set to make July a splendid month for our neck of the woods. It’s been over a year since the news broke that Yorkshire had been selected for ‘le Depart’, but now we’re only a measly 100 days away from watching the best cyclists from around the globe set off from Leeds City Centre.

The routes set for the race have been given the approval by some of cycling’s hall of famers, including Bernard Hinault – one of the most decorated professional cyclists in history – who believes there are some difficult stretches of road to get through (if you’re not in a car!), and Brian Robinson – the first Brit to ever win a stage on the Tour de France. At 82, he still manages to get out on his bike for “a couple of 40 mile rides a week”. Incredible!

It is still an unknown who the winner of the race will be this year; could it be Cavendish? Can Froome or Sir Wiggins strike again? We will only know when that last bike wheel crosses the line in Paris. The one we definitely can say for certain is that (as CEO of W2Y, Gary Verity, put it), Yorkshire will be the REAL winner of this momentous occasion.

But, that’s just two days of this year’s calendar sorted. Can two days of cycling really be worth all the effort and expense to host such an event? The answer is a resounding YES.

Why? Because it’s not just about the cycling. Alongside such a global sporting event, the 100 day countdown to the race is marked by the Yorkshire Festival; 100 days of art and culture events to show off the county’s best artists, music and performers; Hull has been named City of Culture 2017 and will start preparations for the 1,500 events it will host in three years’ time; we have five Michelin star restaurants (the most outside of the capital); new TV dramas, soaps and documentaries set in the county AND even the best Fish and Chip shop in the UK!

These were just some of the topics covered today at Y14 and it’s quite astounding to realise just how much we can brag about as a county. It’s not just the ‘two days of fame’ from the cycling Yorkshire can celebrate, but everything else we have to offer for years to come.

Check out Brad’s “T’Mighty Yorkshire” pinboard on Pinterest, with some fun and interesting facts about ‘God’s County’ you might not know about!