The eyes of the world will be on Yorkshire in 2014 after it was announced that the county is to host the globe’s largest annual sporting event.

Yorkshire will provide the stunning backdrop to the opening stages of the Tour de France, bringing the cycling race to the North of England for the first time.

The Grand Départ will take in Leeds, York, Scarborough, the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Dales, Hull and Sheffield.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said, “Today is a proud day for everyone involved in the bid and the county as a whole. We are honoured that the race organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), have selected Yorkshire to be the host location of the 2014 Grand Départ.

“It will mean less than two years after hosting the Olympics the British public can look forward to another of the world’s biggest sporting events coming to the country, and I am in no doubt they will come to Yorkshire in their millions, lining the length and breadth of the route to cheer on the champions of world cycling and our home grown British heroes.

“Yorkshire is a passionate county of proud people and I am sure they will guarantee that their Grand Départ raises the bar in terms of expectations for all future hosts to come.”

Yorkshire will be the location for the first two days of racing on 5 and 6 July before the Tour moves south for a third stage in southern England, with a finish in London.

Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France director, said, “Since the resounding success of the Grand Départ in London in 2007, we were very keen to return to the United Kingdom.

“Bradley Wiggins’ historical victory last July and the enormous crowds that followed the cycling events in the streets of London during the Olympic Games encouraged us to go back earlier than we had initially planned.

“Yorkshire is a region of outstanding beauty, with breathtaking landscapes whose terrains offer both sprinters and attackers the opportunity to express themselves. We have encountered a phenomenal desire from the Yorkshire team to welcome the Tour de France and have no doubt that passion and support will be particularly evident for the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014.”

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