HOSTING the Grand Départ of this year’s Tour de France will do for Yorkshire what the 2002 Commonwealth Games did for Manchester, says the man who brought the world’s third biggest sporting event to the county.

Welcome to Yorkshire boss Gary Verity says the Commonwealth Games helped Manchester rediscover its “chutzpah”.

“It meant that when the BBC turned up and said ‘we want a brownfield site to build a media village’ Manchester said ‘yes’,” Mr Verity told The Press.

“I think it (the Grand Départ) will have the same impact on Yorkshire.”

In a wide-ranging interview, in which he described how he wowed Tour organisers by flying them by helicopter to his farm in the Dales and to Harewood House, Mr Verity said the economic boost to Yorkshire from hosting the first two days of this year’s Tour would be in the “hundreds of millions of pounds”.

There would be 2,500 journalists in Yorkshire – and in York – for the Grand Départ, and the two Yorkshire legs of the race would be screened in 190 countries around the world, he said.

Mr Verity said it would make Yorkshire “sexy” again in the eyes of the world – and help put the county firmly on the UK business map.

“They (businesses) will be thinking ‘Yorkshire is sexy. It’s the place that did the bike race’ rather than ‘that’s where the miners used to be’. And they’ll be thinking ‘if they had the Tour de France there, why don’t we have our HQ there?’”

Mr Verity said he expected another legacy of the Tour would be an annual three-day Yorkshire cycle race, perhaps known as the Yorkshire Classic, held every spring.