The Tour de France is coming to Yorkshire in 2014.
The county is to host the Grand Depart for the 2014 race, it has been announced today.
After a hard-fought bid by tourist board Welcome to Yorkshire, it has been confirmed Leeds will be the official host city for the opening stages of the world’s biggest annual sporting event.
In the announcement, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has paid tribute to Yorkshire’s “outstanding beauty”.
Mr Prudhomme added: “Bradley Wiggins’ historical victory last July and the enormous crowds that followed the cycling events in the streets of London during the Olympic Games encouraged us to go back earlier than we had initially planned.
“Yorkshire is a region of outstanding beauty, with breathtaking landscapes whose terrains offer both sprinters and attackers the opportunity to express themselves.
“We have encountered a phenomenal desire from the Yorkshire team to welcome the Tour de France and have no doubt that passion and support will be particularly evident for the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014.”
The race route is likely to incorporate gruelling hill climbs in the Yorkshire Dales.
Ripon and Skipton MP Julian Smith has welcomed the announcement.
Mr Smith said: “I am delighted by the news that Yorkshire will be host to the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in 2014. This will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase Yorkshire to the world, bringing yet another world class sporting event to the UK.
“With a global audience of over two billion people watching the Tour de France every year, the backdrop is vital. In Yorkshire you could not ask for more. Some of the most iconic roads and scenery in the country, if not the world are here.
“Yorkshire and the UK has beaten many eminent world cities and countries and I am sure everyone in the region will now start preparing to ensure the event is a brilliant success.”