THE man who brought the Tour de France to the region says it is time for Yorkshire Dales to “shine”.

With just three week to go until the Grand Depart, Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said the world’s biggest annual sporting event would leave a lasting legacy for the area.

Mr Verity said the Dales’ natural beauty would ensure the area received a disproportionate share of the economic benefits from the race.

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Mr Verity, who himself runs a sheep farm in Coverdale, expressed his thanks to Dales farmers for maintaining the countryside and ensuring it would impress a huge worldwide television audience.

He said the area was already seeing the benefits with scores of cyclists pedalling the route every day.

“The number of visitors is more than we have ever seen.

“If you listen to these cyclists they don’t have accents from around here - they are from way off.

“Many stop half way around the route in Hawes or Reeth to do the route over two days and they all spend money.

“And on July 5 150 million people will see the area live and if we are blessed with nice weather it’s going to look stunning.”

Mr Verity believes the Tour de France will attract more visitors to the area than the James Herriot books and the television series, All Creatures Great and Small, which they inspired.

“The Dales will proportionally be a big benefactor of this.

“People will come for years and years to come because of this event.

“They will say they want to come and see the place where the Tour de France was, some will come to ride a bit of the route and bring their kids to ride a bit of the route.

“Even if they only do 5km it’s a great thing to say ‘we went on a family holiday and we rode where Mark Cavendish was riding when he won in Harrogate’ or ‘where Chris Froome was riding in the year he defended his yellow jersey that’s where we were’.”

Although he admits the race will be an inconvenience to some Dales residents and businesses, Mr Verity said he hoped people would recognise the huge opportunity it created for the area.

“The one thing we have in common with the true champions of cycling is pride,” he added