Tourism chief promises "best international" stages yet
England's largest county, Yorkshire, is reportedly in "advanced talks" to host the 2016 Tour de France Grand Départ.
Speaking with the Yorkshire Post, Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity confirmed the bid.
"Those in-depth discussions are ongoing but I can reveal Yorkshire's bid has been positively received by the organisation committee at this stage," he said.
"Yorkshire is a world-class destination experienced at successfully hosting world-class events and we believe it will provide the perfect backdrop to the world's greatest cycle race, producing the best international Grand Départ the Tour de France has seen yet."
England last hosted the Tour in 2007 when London was the site of an 8 kilometre prologue, while stage 1 saw a dramatic win by Australia's Robbie McEwen over 208 kilometres between the capital and Canterbury. Over two million people are estimated to have lined the roads to witness the racing first-hand.
Previously, the Tour also visited Dover, Brighton and Portsmouth in 1994 while 20 years earlier it began in Plymouth.
Should this latest bid be successful, the race would visit the Yorkshire Dales, York, the North York Moors to the coastal resort of Scarborough before heading south to Hull and then Sheffield. Tour de France organisers will visit Yorkshire next month to see the proposed route.
Leeds City Council's Keith Wakefield, said that hosting the Tour was an exciting opportunity.
"This is one of the most famous sporting events in the world and Leeds would be incredibly proud to host the Grand Départ," he said.
"As one of the UK's most famous sporting cities I know our businesses and residents would embrace, support and celebrate the city hosting such a spectacular event.
"The teams, riders and visitors from across the world would receive a warm Leeds welcome and I am sure that would stay with them as they made their way across Yorkshire."