The Tour de France in '14 "will begin in Leeds and include a third stage that finishes on the Mall in London, reprising the final scenes of the Olympic road races last year," according to John Westerby of the LONDON TIMES. Organizers of the Tour announced the routes for the first three stages of the '14 event Thursday morning, confirming that Yorkshire "will host the Grand Départ and the first two stages on July 5 and 6, before the race moves south for a stage starting in Cambridge, heading past the Olympic Park on its way to a finish in front of Buckingham Palace" (LONDON TIMES, 1/17). The BBC reported the opening stage of the '14 Tour "will take the riders north from Leeds through Otley, Ilkley and Skipton before heading into the Yorkshire Dales and ending on the Stray in Harrogate." Stage two heads west from York toward Haworth -- "the village that was home to the Bronte family -- and also passes through Holmfirth, the filming location for long-running BBC sitcom Last Of The Summer Wine, before reaching Sheffield." Tour Dir Christian Prudhomme said, "It's going to go up and down all the time, like in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic." Gary Verity, CEO of Welcome to Yorkshire, the agency behind the successful bid, added: "The routes of the Grand Départ will showcase some of Yorkshire's iconic cycling climbs and the county's stunning land and cityscapes" (BBC, 1/17).
Events and Attractions
Rafael Nadal has been confirmed to make his return to the tennis courts at the Chile Open. The Spaniard has been out of the game since July with a knee injury. The last time Nadal played in South America was in '05 when he won the Brazil Open at the age of 18 (Chile Open). SPORT noted Nadal will be in São Paulo to play in the Brazil Open the week after the Chile Open. Both events are on clay, "the best surface for his articulation." Nadal confirmed his presence in Chile. He said, "I am happy to confirm my participation in the Viña del Mar tournament in Chile" (SPORT, 1/17).
The World Curling Federation has announced Beijing as the host of the 2014 World Men's Curling Championship, which will take place March 29 - April 6, 2014. The event will mark the first time that a the championship has been staged in the Pacific-Asia area (WCF). ... Representatives from the National Federations and cities of Budapest, Hungary; Tokyo, Japan; Gwangju, South Korea; and a city yet to be confirmed in China met on Wednesday in Lausanne, Switzerland for a meeting on the bidding procedure for the Int'l Swimming Federation (FINA) World Championships in '19 and potentially '21. The four potential bidders have until April 4 to present a formal bid to the organization, which will on July 19 announce the winner (FINA). ... Rules "will be more stringent" at the upcoming World Baseball Classic "in consideration of the workload on pitchers." Fox Sports revealed that pitchers will be limited to 65 pitches for the first round, 80 for the second and 95 in the semifinals and final (KYODO, 1/17).