ORGANISERS of the Tour de France cycle race are to visit Yorkshire in May to begin deciding whether it will host the start of the 2016 event.

Tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire will welcome dignitaries from the the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), to present the region’s credentials. As reported in The Press last summer, Yorkshire is bidding to host the Grand Depart in 2016, the first stage of the race.

Over two days in mid-May the team will be shown the proposed route, view some of the hotels and facilities the Tour would need and be guests of honour at a welcoming dinner.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “This is big news for Yorkshire. We look forward to showing ASO that Yorkshire is passionate about hosting the race and giving them the best overseas leg in Tour de France history.

“If we get this right as a county, with everyone working together pooling resources and expertise, this will be Yorkshire’s Commonwealth Games moment. It would have a similar impact on the county as the Games did in Manchester, showcasing Yorkshire to the world and putting it on the map as a dynamic place to visit, live and do business.”

Welcome to Yorkshire is compiling a technical team to be part of the bid party, and Yorkshire’s bid has already been backed by Tour de France star Mark Cavendish, whose family lives in Harrogate, as well as Olympic triathlon hopefuls Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee.

Alistair said: “As proud Yorkshiremen we are delighted to back the bid to bring the Tour de France to Yorkshire. We spend a lot of time training in our home county and know what a beautiful, challenging and inspiring landscape it is to compete in and we are sure the peloton would find it no different.”

If Yorkshire does win the right to host the Grand Depart, cyclists will start the race in Leeds city centre, then head to the Yorkshire Dales via Harrogate, then on to York, the North York Moors, Scarborough, Hull and then Sheffield.

The racing would be spread over two days and Leeds would also hosting a festival of music and entertainment in the city centre.