Tour de France chiefs ride in

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TOURISM leaders in Yorkshire have pledged to mount a major charm offensive as Tour de France chiefs prepare to visit the region.

The most senior executives behind the world-famous cycle race will be in Yorkshire this month for meetings in Leeds and a helicopter tour of the county.

Welcome to Yorkshire is bidding to host the Grand Depart, the opening stage of the race, in 2016.

It is anticipated the proposed route would start in Leeds city centre before taking in the Dales and the North York Moors along with Scarborough.

If the bid is successful, Scarborough landmarks would be on show to a worldwide television audience of millions and it is expected that thousands of visitors would flock to the town for the event.

Top cyclists Mark Cavendish and Ben Swift have both already lent their support.

Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive, Gary Verity, said: “It is a fantastic honour to host the Tour de France, and we believe Yorkshire is the best location to do just that. There is high-profile support and we will be showing exactly what we have to offer when the race organisers are here.”

But a joint bid was unveiled this week by EventScotland, British Cycling and UK Sport, and backed by the Scottish government, to have the race held in Scotland in 2017.

The rival bid’s organisers admitted a proposed route has yet to be finalised but said it would start in Edinburgh before heading south with the aim of keeping the race in the UK for as long as possible.

A spokesman said: “This is not just about Scotland; we want the whole of the UK to benefit. We have not ruled out the possibility of including Yorkshire on the route.”

Yorkshire’s bid also faces global competition from Barcelona, Florence and Qatar.

The race would be split into two days, with cyclists covering 112 miles a day.

To register your support go to www.yorkshire.com/backlebid