DELEGATES from the Tour de France visited North Yorkshire as they consider bringing the race to the region.

Tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire is leading a campaign to get the start of the event, the Grand Depart, to take place in the county.

The Tour de France organisers recently visited the area on a fact-finding mission.

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Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "Our great county looked splendid, the sun has shone and we have given them a real taste of the landscape, landmarks, passion and amazing people they can expect to be behind our bid."

The French delegation was welcomed by business and union leaders who pointed to the potential economic benefits for the region, should it land the Tour de France Grand Départ. Northallerton food store, Lewis & Cooper, presented the delegates with hampers of Yorkshire food.

If successful, Welcome to Yorkshire says the county would benefit from tens of millions of pounds of extra visitor spend and be the focus of a worldwide television audience of more than two billion people.

The visitors were given a tour of the county's landmarks from coast to Dales and shown the variety of landscapes in which the world's largest annual sporting event could be hosted.

The proposed Yorkshire route would start in Leeds, the bid's host city, before taking in the Dales and the North York Moors along with key locations including York and Scarborough.

The bid has already been backed by world cycling sprint champion Mark Cavendish.

* Members of the public can add their backing to the campaign by visiting the website; ENDS