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Yorkshire confirms bid for 2016 Tour de France opening stages

image captionLondon hosted the opening stages of the race in 2007

Tourism bosses in Yorkshire have confirmed they have made a formal bid to host the opening stages of the 2016 Tour de France cycle race.

The first two days of racing, the Grand Depart, are held in a new location outside France every two years.

Yorkshire is competing against Barcelona, Venice, Berlin and Scotland.

Welcome to Yorkshire is leading the bid and said the route would take in Leeds, Scarborough, York, Hull, Sheffield and the Yorkshire Dales.

The Tour de France is an annual three-week race held in France and the surrounding countries.

Stages were last held in the UK in 2007 when London and Kent played host.

The regional tourism agency, Welcome to Yorkshire, believes hosting the event would raise the region's world profile and boost the economy.

Gary Verity, chief executive of the agency, said: "It is the world's biggest annual sporting event, 88 million people every day watch it on the telly. It offers massive coverage.

"We are making a series of pitches which will culminate in a big meeting in two months time to try and persuade the organisers that Yorkshire is the place for them."

The organisers of the Tour de France are due to visit Yorkshire to review the proposed route in May.

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