A DECISION on whether the Dales will host part of the Tour de France is expected within weeks.

Yorkshire has bid to stage the Grand Depart, which marks the start of the world-famous event, in either 2014 or 2016, with tourism body Welcome To Yorkshire leading the campaign to secure it. If successful, the 400km route would include the Dales.

Race organisers have sent contracts to Welcome To Yorkshire for it to examine and detailed talks are now being held about the route, which could include Hawes in Wensleydale.

An announcement is likely either at the end of this month or the start of next month. The Yorkshire bid has been backed by cycling star Mark Cavendish, whose family live in Harrogate, and Leeds-based Olympic triathlon medallists Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, from Bramhope.

It is estimated the event would boost the county’s economy by up to £300 million.

A Welcome To Yorkshire spokeswoman said: “Things are developing very well and we are very optimistic they will announce the Tour de France is coming to Yorkshire in 2014 or 2016.

“The talks have become very serious and we are perusing contracts and looking at a lot of the technical details, such as the width of the roads in the Dales.

“We are getting a lot of support from local authorities and the thought of something of this magnitude coming here is very exciting.”