UK & World News
Yorkshire Gears Up For 2014 Tour De France
Yorkshire is putting the finishing touches to its preparations for the Tour de France, which sets off from Leeds on Saturday.
An opening ceremony is being held on Thursday night at the start of what will be the biggest event the region has ever hosted, with a global TV audience of 3.5bn in 188 countries.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will watch 22 teams of nine riders tackle parts of the first day's racing, before Kate presents the coveted yellow jersey to the first stage winner at the finishing line in Harrogate.
British sprinter Mark Cavendish is hotly tipped to take the top spot on the podium in his mother's home town.
The first day's course, which goes through the spectacular scenery of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, has been decked out with yellow bikes and miles of bunting fixed to houses and lampposts.
On Sunday, the riders travel from York to Sheffield, climbing a total of 3,000ft including a gruelling four-mile-long slog up Holme Moss.
Tourism businesses are preparing for an expected two million spectators and councils have relaxed planning restrictions for camping and off road parking.
More than 300 miles of roads will be closed for part of the weekend with an expected 60 miles of barriers and 30,000 traffic cones helping to keep order.
The Tour was brought to Yorkshire by Gary Verity, chief executive of the Welcome to Yorkshire tourism agency, who snatched it from under the nose of a government-backed bid from Scotland.
"The whole of Yorkshire has embraced not just cycling, but le Tour," he told Sky News.
"As a Yorkshireman I have never known anything unite the county and inspire the county like the Tour has done. It is incredible and for me it is quite emotional."