LIVERPOOL is under starters orders to host the opening stage of the UK's largest professional cycling race.
Organisers of the renowned Tour of Britain have today announced Liverpool will be the 'Grand Depart' city for this year's race on Sunday 7 September.
This is the first time the city has hosted this prestigious opening stage, although it has been involved with the event before by holding stage finishes in 2006 and 2008, and a mid-race stage start in 2007.
Stage One will start and finish on The Strand, taking in the world-famous backdrop of the Three Graces. It will consist of ten laps of a 13-kilometre circuit.
Liverpool's Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member responsible for sport, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: "This is a huge coup for the city. It's wonderful news that this world famous sporting event will begin in Liverpool.
"This race attracts some of the best riders from across the globe with previous races featuring elite cyclists such as Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome.
"There's a real momentum building for cycling in this city. The latest figures show more people than ever are using bikes here and there's a real appetite for it at the moment. And with the launch of our cycle hire scheme – the biggest in the UK outside of London - there has never been a better time for Liverpool to host this high profile event.”
The Liverpool route will be revealed in the near future, along with details of a mass participation event to coincide with The Tour of Britain's arrival in the city.
Race Director, Mick Bennett, said: "We are delighted that this year's Tour of Britain can start with such a prestigious stage in the centre of Liverpool.
"The opening circuit will be perfectly suited to the sprinters, and whoever wins Stage One will pull on the first yellow jersey of 2014.
"With the support of Liverpool City Council we are looking forward to making this year's Grand Depart a memorable occasion for cycling fans.”
The 2014 Tour of Britain will take place across 8 days – from 7 to the 14 September.