by Marcus Leach
When the Tour de France set-off in Yorkshire earlier this year, taking in Cambridgeshire, Essex and London before finally heading back over to France, there was a genuine feeling that it had been a roaring success. The nation turned out in their millions to witness one of the world's most iconic sporting events.
That success has now been officially confirmed in 64-page report that details the benefits of staging the start of the 101st Tour de France. The report, 'Three Inspirational Days', reveals that almost five million people turned out on the roads of Britain for the opening three stages, generating £128 million between them.
Yorkshire benefited the most from a financial point of view, £102 million of the total being spent in Yorkshire as the Grand Depart gripped a nation.
"We are absolutely delighted the event brought so much money to the county to help businesses big and small," said the man whose idea it was to bid for the Grand Depart, Welcome to Yorkshire's Gary Verity.
"There are also benefits which are impossible to measure - the profile of Yorkshire around the world has never been higher and this will have a lasting impact for years to come."
Whilst it was Yorkshire who enjoyed the biggest share of the spoils, thanks to hosting the Grand Depart, the Tour's third stage from Cambridge, through Essex, and into London on 7 July attracted a crowd of 1.5 million and brought in £30.5 million in additional revenue.
"The Tour in London was the most fantastic spectacle of sport, which delighted and entertained crowds across the capital," said Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
"The economic benefit of hosting such prestigious sporting events is clear, with images of our brilliant city beamed around the world."
However, there was no doubting that it was the opening stage in Yorkshire that stole the show, a fact confirmed by he Tour's race director Christian Prudhomme.
“Amazing, unforgettable, and the grandest Grand Départ ever," he said. "What I do know is that the welcome was exceptional. London in 2007 was very special but these three days were unforgettable. I’ve had so many messages saying how beautiful it looked, how many people there were on the roadsides."
It had been hoped that the Tour's fourth visit to these shores would match the impact of the only previous time it had started here, the 2007 Grand Depart in London and Kent.
This led to crowd estimates of 2-3m, and economic benefits of £100m - numbers which were considered optimistic at the time. But with cycling booming in this country thanks to the Tour-winning exploits of Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, as well as Mark Cavendish's numerous sprint victories, the 2014 edition surpassed all expectations.
The Tour in Britain by Numbers
- £128 million: the total boost to Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex and London because of the Tour de France
- 4.8 million: the number of people who lined the route for the three English stages
- 100km: the amount of barriers and fencing required, which is enough to barrier the M11 from Cambridge to London
- 13,000: the number of stewards and traffic marshals on duty
- 2 million: the number of spectators who felt inspired to cycle more frequently
Whilst the government would have spent considerable money on getting the Tour's opening stages in the first place, they will be more than happy with their return. Furthermore, the three stages once again highlighted the nation's ability to host world class sporting events.
"The Tour showcased the UK's event-hosting capabilities and passionate fans at their best," Liz Nicholl, the chief executive of the elite-funding agency UK Sport, said.
"Through National Lottery funding, the nation will continue to benefit from the many impacts of hosting major sporting events on home soil."
One of the key benefits the government are looking to build upon following the Tour's success is increasing the number of people cycling in the UK.
The report states that 2 million of those who saw the race were inspired by it to ride more frequently, with a follow-up study finding that half of those had actually got on their bikes more often.