CYCLING enthusiasts and civic leaders have welcomed news that Yorkshire will host the first two stages of the 2014 Tour de France.
Full details of the route are yet to be revealed but it is believed that the race could pass through Hawes and Settle.
Leeds will host the Grand Départ on July 5 before riders make their way through the county’s stunning landscape the following day.
Manager of 3 Peaks Cycle shop in Settle, Mick Mounsey, encouraged his customers to sign an online petition backing the bid.
“It is all we’ve been talking about this week,” he said. “Riding one of the stages of the Tour de France after the event is finished will be a massive honour.
“Britain has had a bumper year of sport and this has topped off 2012 nicely.”
Kent Valley Road Club secretary Richard Belk said: “After being in the crowds at the men's Olympic road race in London I reckon the Tour routes in Yorkshire will be packed five or six deep.
“There will certainly be an exodus of cycling fans from the North West to be part of it all.”
Owner of Askew Cycles in Kendal, Tony Dixon, said: “Big thumbs up to the organisers for rewarding the work that has gone into British cyling.
“I will be heading over to Yorkshire to see the cyclists, I have family there.”
Millions lined the streets of London in 2007 when the Tour last came to Britain and it is estimated that over two billion people will watch on TV.
It is hoped the attention of the world’s media will boost the economic profile of Yorkshire.
Leader of Richmondshire District Council, John Blackie, who represents Hawes, said: “We are excited for the attention and promise to deliver an excellent service that the Tour de France deserves.
“I’m already brushing up on my French!
Yvonne Fortune, tourist information manager for Craven District Council, said: “The Craven area is well known for offering cyclists a brilliant experience and we would be delighted to see any part of the route here.”
Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation selected Yorkshire ahead of bids from Edinburgh and Florence as a tribute to this year’s British winner Bradley Wiggins and the 2012 Olympics.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the driving force behind the bid, said: “I am in no doubt they will come in their millions, lining the length and breadth of the route to cheer on the champions of world cycling.
A rough route has been outlined but full details of the Grand Départ and the stages will be revealed on January 17.