Tour de France: Wiggins & Froome success prompts UK start

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme
The 2014 Grand Depart will be held in Yorkshire on Saturday, 5 July

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme says the recent success of British riders was one of the reasons to start this year's race in Yorkshire.

The 2014 Grand Depart, on Saturday, will be held in the United Kingdom for the first time since 2007.

Prudhomme believes wins for Sir Bradley Wiggins and then fellow Briton Chris Froome last year have helped develop an appetite for the race in Britain.

"There is such a passion for cycling and a love for the Tour," he said.

British winners of the Tour de France
Sir Bradley Wiggins, 2012Team Sky rider Wiggins became the first British winner of the Tour de France, finishing ahead of Sky team-mate and compatriot Chris Froome.
Chris Froome, 2013Froome won the race in 2013, taking full advantage after Wiggins elected not to defend his title because of injury problems.

Prudhomme says the success of the 2007 Grand Depart in London meant a return to the UK was inevitable, but that Tour wins for Wiggins and Froome accelerated the process.

"In 2007, the first Grand Depart ever in the UK was unforgettable, but at that time you had champions on the track, not on the road," he said. "Now you have champions on the road.

"After London in 2007, we thought we would be back in 10 years. But, after we had the first win of a British rider, we thought we needed to be back as soon as possible."

Prudhomme says some French people have questioned the decision to start the race in another country, but points out the first Tour to start on foreign soil was in 1954, when Amsterdam was host.

"For me, it is not strange to start the Tour in Yorkshire, but for some French people it is," he said.

"For us, it is very important, because the more champions you have from many countries, the greater the Tour will be."