Caption: Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme addresses the council chamber this week.
The director of the Tour de France has praised the people of Leeds as the city gears up for this weekend’s Grand Départ.
Addressing a meeting of Leeds City Council’s full council this week, Christian Prudhomme, director of Le Tour said he was “thrilled” after seeing first-hand all the city had done to welcome the world’s biggest cycle race.
Mr Prudhomme told members: “This morning I had a short walk in the streets of the city. I saw a giant banner ‘Leeds welcomes the Tour de France’ on the Town Hall.
“I saw many bicycles painted yellow. Even on the big crane just next to the building, 20 or 30 metres high!
“I am really impressed and thrilled what you’ve done for us and for The Tour. I want to thank you all, for the trust you have in us, for the trust you have in The Tour.”
Preparations for Saturday’s Grand Départ have seen the council work alongside local groups and businesses, who have all done their bit to decorate the city.
Leeds’ efforts have included banners, bunting, Tour de France-themed flowerbeds, and city centre statues wearing specially-made yellow jerseys.
Music and dance performances, theatre and cinema productions, art and museum exhibitions, food and drink festivals, bike races and shows, a pre-race parade featuring The Tour riders themselves, the Opening Ceremony Team Presentation and even a carnival have also been taking place in Leeds this week.
Mr Prudhomme also hailed Leeds’ pledge to create a cycling legacy following The Tour as well as recognising the city’s passion for the sport.
He said: “I want to thank you for writing that bringing the Tour de France to Leeds will provide the catalyst we need to move to the next stage of cycling in the city.
“I think it is true. I read everywhere in the street that “cycling starts here”- you’re right."
He added: "The grass roots of road cycling are here.
“You have all the venues we need for The Tour. You have an outstanding landscape and more than that you have passion, passion for cycling and love for The Tour.”
Saturday morning’s events on the route will begin at approximately 8.30am when a group of cadet riders are followed by the Tour’s famous publicity caravan made up of more than 180 vehicles.
At 11.10am, the riders will leave the start line outside Leeds Art Gallery, beginning the ceremonial roll-out down The Headrow before joining the A61 and heading to Harewood House.
Mr Prudhomme added: “I had dreams about the Grand Départ in Yorkshire. I feel it will be even bigger.
“You are proud to be from Leeds you are proud to be from Yorkshire.
“I believe that in three days, in four days, in five days in the future you will be even prouder to be from Leeds, you will be even prouder to be from Yorkshire and if it’s thanks to the Tour de France I will be very happy.”
To watch a video of Mr Prudhomme’s speech to full council, visit: http://youtu.be/tp-iyGfpRNA
For the latest news on the Grand Départ visit www.letouryorkshire.com
Leeds City Council
Tel: 0113 224 3937