Tour de Yorkshire 2017 gets under way

Image source, Tour de Yorkshire
Image caption,
Riders lined up on the coast in Bridlington for the start of the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire

Thousands of spectators have lined the route of the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire's first stage as the race gets started.

The cycle race covers 304 miles (490 km) and is split into three stages.

The event, in its third year, began as part of the legacy of the county hosting the 2014 Grand Depart for the Tour de France.

The first stage of the men's race started in Bridlington and will finish up the coast in Scarborough 107 miles (173km) later.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
The race passed through the village of Ruston Parva on the first stage
Image source, PA
Image caption,
Tour de Yorkshire 2017's first stage stretches for 107 miles (173km)

Stage 3 will conclude on Sunday at Fox Valley in Sheffield.

The women's race starts in Tadcaster and ends in Harrogate on Saturday.

Image caption,
Thousands of spectators turned out to watch, with some finding slightly precarious positions

The race is jointly organised by Welcome to Yorkshire, the region's tourism agency, and French company Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), which organises the Tour de France and other prestigious races in the European calendar.

Welcome to Yorkshire said the 2016 race attracted about a million spectators, generated about £60m for the local economy and was watched by 11.4 million TV viewers in 178 countries.

Media caption,
2017 Tour de Yorkshire route maps

As in previous years, many of the towns and villages along the route have entered into the spirit of the race and decorated the roadside.

ASO race director Christian Prudhomme said: "In every village there are blue and yellow flowers, with bikes, with bunting and huge flags and smiles on everybody's face."

Image caption,
Some spectators decided to go all-out with their fancy dress outfits

Welcome to Yorkshire's Sir Gary Verity said there was huge enthusiasm for the event.

"We have 2,500 volunteers this time compared to 1,200 last year.

"There is an increased level of interest in the event and we have been getting messages from people coming from all around the UK and beyond."

Mr Verity was given France's National Order of Merit on Thursday in recognition of his work to bring the Grand Depart to Yorkshire in 2014 and establishing the Tour de Yorkshire.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Tour de Yorkshire 2016 overall winner Thomas Voeckler will be defending his title

For spectators it is a chance to glimpse elite cyclists, including Olympic gold medal winner Owain Doull and former Women's Tour winner Kirsten Wild.

Frenchman Thomas Voeckler, who won the men's race in 2016, will also be defending his title.

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