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Tour de France - the grand depart

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All Eyes on Yorkshire – Jill Gough and Craig Taylor’s presentation on the planning and delivery of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2014 – Wednesday 27th September 2017.

When it was announced that the Tour de France 2014 would be coming to the UK it was originally planned to start off in Scotland. But Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, had a vision of bringing the Tour to Yorkshire and he successfully led the campaign for the Grand Départ of the 2014 Tour de France to be in Leeds.

There was an excitement that rippled through the region between cyclists and non-cyclists alike for this iconic event, one which Yorkshire had not seen the likes of before.

Comprising of 127 miles Stage 1 of the event took in some of the most panoramic views of the Yorkshire Dales and the majestic historic architecture in our towns and cities.

4.8 million people turned out to support the event, lining the roads of the route to cheer on the riders. It is reported that the event generated a boost in the economy of over £100 million in Yorkshire alone – as well as £30 million for the other host areas.

Led by Leeds City Council as the lead local authority, Jill Gough and Craig Taylor, PMO’s for Leeds City Council, were given just 40 weeks to deliver this incredibly complex and high-profile event which was acclaimed to have been the best Grand Départ ever.

The authority was supported by UK Sport, Welcome to Yorkshire, Transport for London and TdFHUB2014Ltd.

On Wednesday 27th September Jill and Craig gave a fast-paced informative and fascinating insight to the event that captivated the audience. It was recognised that an event of this magnitude would normally take around 18 months to 2 years to deliver. With a non-moveable delivery date rigorous planning, effective communication and a military-style execution – and a little good luck with the weather holding out - ensured that this event ran to schedule with only minor issues arising. Jill explained that with such a limited timescale and limited resource, it was all hands-on deck, with the PMO’s filling the gaps.

Outlining some of the many challenges that the event presented Jill humorously narrated the ones that are unlikely to crop up in your usual project. One such challenge was getting Harry Styles, a VIP guest, who was stranded on a train between Leeds and Harrogate, to the finish on time. The train had been stopped as part of control measures for traffic and public transport which were put in place to mitigate the risk to public safety created by volumes of people pouring into Harrogate for the finish of the stage. Another was getting the timing right for a road closure to make sure that a wedding went ahead on time.

It was not all a barrel of laughs – this was a high-pressure project with many challenges. Team building and social events played an important role in keeping up team moral and maintaining focus.

This presentation was colourful and enlightening, jam-packed with anecdotes and good project management practice. This event comes highly recommended not only for the content but also for the presenters’ obvious enthusiasm for a job well done.

Linda Stafford, APM Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire Branch


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