North Yorkshire could host the opening stages of the Tour de France if tourism chiefs are successful.
Detailed talks have been taking place for a number of months to bring the opening stages of the epic race to the county.
Talks have included a bid team led by Welcome to Yorkshire, visiting the Paris offices of the Tour’s organising committee to present Yorkshire’s credentials.
They centred around the Grand Départ - the opening two days of racing - which are held in a new location outside France every two years.
The route submitted for consideration proposes Leeds city centre as the starting destination from which the 22 teams would weave their way to the Yorkshire Dales, head east to Scarborough and the coast, via York and the North York Moors, before dropping south to Hull and finally to Sheffield.
The racing would be spread over two days covering 180kms a day with Leeds hosting a festival of music and entertainment in the city centre to welcome the teams and the Tour’s considerable entourage.
More talks are due to take place next month and plans are underway for the Tour de France organisers to visit Yorkshire to see the proposed route.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said: “I can confirm that we are having advanced talks to host the Tour de France. Those in depth discussions are ongoing but I can reveal Yorkshire’s bid has been positively received by the organising committee at this stage.
‘Yorkshire is a world class destination experienced at successfully hosting world class events and we believe it will provide the perfect backdrop to the world’s greatest cycle race, producing the best international Grand Départ the Tour de France has seen yet.”
Yorkshire has a proud history for hosting world sporting events. It recently held the cross country leg of the Mountain Bike World Cup and is due to host the Olympic Torch relay next year for six days.
If successful, the county would benefit to the tune of tens of millions of pounds of extra visitor spend and be the focus of a worldwide television audience of over two billion people.
Over 185 countries around the world show the Tour de France every year with the last hour of every stage broadcast live across Western Europe.
“The economic impact for Yorkshire will be tremendous and we will do everything we can to make sure the event comes here,” said Mr Verity.