SUCCESSFUL cycling initiatives and the hosting of prestigious competitions have helped Yorkshire become the first place in the country to win official recognition as a UCI Bike Region.

The prestigious accolade has only been awarded to eight regions since its relaunch in 2015 and it further enhances the county’s reputation as a world-class cycling destination.

Yorkshire received the award from cycling’s world governing body the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) at a ceremony in Bergen, Norway, where the UCI Road World Championships are currently taking place.

The UCI grants the status to locations that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to growing and promoting everyday cycling, as well as hosting major UCI cycling events.

Yorkshire has numerous cycling strategies in place across its 22 local authorities which target events, infrastructure, training, education and tourism.

Top initiatives include the 46 Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries that Welcome to Yorkshire has opened since 2014 where children can gain free access to bikes.

2019 will also see the UCI Road World Championships come to the county, with 12 races taking place over nine days and 1,000 of the best riders from around 75 countries set to compete.

Tracey Crouch MP, Minister for Sport, said the accolade was deserved.

She added: “The honour is a testament to the hard work of all those involved in opening the region up to cyclists, and the lasting legacy from hosting the Tour de France Grand Départ in 2014 and the Tours de Yorkshire since.

“I know the people of Yorkshire will also get right behind the UCI World Road Championships in 2019 too that will further cement the county’s strong links to cycling.”

Brian Cookson, UCI President, said Yorkshire was one of the “shining examples” of what can be achieved in cycling.

Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said they were “thrilled” and he praised the hard work put in to win the status.