I have a confession to make. The idea of Yorkshire winning the tender to host the Grand Depart is still very difficult to comprehend but the UK’s biggest county in England’s north has worked extremely hard and rightfully deserves the accolade.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

The Yorkshire bid was somewhat frowned upon and dismissed as a bit of a joke by traditionalists when the pitch to host the opening two days was conceived in 2011.

It wasn't so much the aggressive approach as it was a novel exercise, moving the world's most recognised tour from its origins to a remote part of European cycling was curious.

To fend off counter bids from Florence and Scotland was quite a coup.

No doubt it won over the imagination of creative Tour race director Christian Prudhomme who's never been shy for his race to discover new frontiers, like last year's Grand Depart from Corsica.

It was beautiful and special, and the perfect way to start the 100th edition on the Mediterranean island the Tour had never before visited.

Either way, Yorkshire is proud of its achievement and with the eyes of the world watching, the economic spin-offs are sure to be realised in the immediate future.

With SBS management locking away a 10-year TV rights deal with ASO (Tour de France owner), the Tour is set to stay on Australian screens for a long time yet, with the promise to develop and increase production values.

The relationship SBS has formed with ASO cannot be understated.

Unlike other networks that engage in other major international sporting events, SBS looks beyond the pushing of pedals when covering the Tour, we hope to get that point across in 2014.

We're not afraid to admit the Tour is just as much a cultural experience as it is a sporting spectacle. In fact we are proud!

Research has proven the viewing audiences extend beyond the battles on the road.

People of all ages have come to appreciate the Tour for what it is, a travelogue highlighting the majestic scenery of France featuring the riders as the stars of the show.

When SBS first broadcast daily highlights packages of the Tour back in 1991, it was handed to the network on a platter for next to no cost at all.

Those old enough to remember there was no Australian presence at all in terms of hosts or reports on location.

The shows were primarily produced for Britain's ITV network and subsequently distributed and catered for the English-speaking world.

That being the case the coverage focused in and around the exploits of Chris Boardman, a legendary time trial specialist who dominated the Tour's first days before fading away over the three week duration.

Despite the presence of Australian riders in those days such as Phil Anderson, Neil Stephens and Stephen Hodge, they rarely got a look-in during the British-slanted coverage.

It was then when management decided to send SBS football guru (and converted Francophile) Les Murray to add a local Aussie touch to the Tour presentation.

While Les's pronunciations of all things Gallic were pin-perfect , the demands of chasing a 3,500km bike race didn't have the same appeal as sitting in a stadium watching grown men kick a ball around.

With a new wave of Aussie riders, led by Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Brad McGee, Baden Cooke, it planted the seed that can be seen and felt to this day.

The Tour is a winner in every sense.

Thanks also to Cadel Evans, advertisers and sponsors are now climbing over each other to grab a share of the "corporate pie".

They don't want to miss out and have also been duly rewarded.

Despite the late finishes (for Eastern viewers), the time differences appear to be ideal, even more so this year with 8.30pm starts scheduled for several stages.

It's easy to predict the 2014 Tour will be another success story and while no Australian is expected challenge for overall honours at the Paris finish, each and every one selected across a variety of teams is capable of etching their name in Tour folklore.

The small SBS Tour team on location is ready to roll as is the dedicated group working from the Sydney headquarters for television, online and radio.

Drop the starters flag Monsieur Prudhomme, we cannot wait!



SBS will broadcast and stream online all stages of the Tour de France LIVE. Click here to add the schedule times to your calendar.