Yorkshire's Gary Verity says Tour de France is 'game-changer'

Yorkshire has never looked better than during the Grand Depart

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Yorkshire's Grand Depart for the Tour de France was "a game-changer for the county", said organiser Gary Verity.

Mr Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "I am still trying to absorb what went on but Yorkshire was the big winner, I am sure."

The Tour's general director Christian Prudhomme has declared the opening to the 2014 race "the grandest Grand Depart ever".

The first two stages of the famous cycle race were held in the county.

Gary Verity (L) and Christian Prudhomme (R) in York The Tour was the most fantastic advert for Yorkshire, Mr Verity said.

Mr Verity said the events in Yorkshire, watched by large crowds by the roadside, were the "most fantastic advert for Yorkshire".

He said he was sure hosting the Grand Depart was the right thing to do "even though it hacked off a lot of people in the establishment".

He said Mr Prudhomme - the "grand fromage of the tour" - had believed in Yorkshire's bid from the start.

Mr Prudhomme said the huge crowds seen out on the route were "unbelievable, incredible, amazing, astonishing".

And he added the five times Tour champion and fellow Frenchman Bernard Hinault told him he had never seen crowds like it in 40 years of cycling.

A Tour spectator hub in Harrogate It was a weekend of huge crowds across Yorkshire

Mr Verity said he would never forget the look on the faces of the tour's riders at the starts in Leeds and York.

As the tour began to roll out, Mr Verity said he was in the lead car just in front of the body of riders and was able to hear the cyclists.

He said cyclists Chris Froome and Marcel Kittel had told him "What have you done? This is incredible, all these people".

Yorkshire has now returned returned to normal after a weekend of huge crowds, closed roads and pressure on public transport across the county.

Sheffield City Council said Sunday's second-stage finish was "the biggest event we've ever had" but all the city's roads re-opened in time for Monday's rush hour.

The council added the crowds had left little litter and it was "grateful" that most spectators had taken their rubbish home.

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