BUSINESSES badly hit by last summer's flooding in the Dales are welcoming the return of the Tour de Yorkshire this spring.

The Dales Bike Centre in Fremington, near Reeth, was among the many properties affected by the devastating floods at the end of last July.

But there is good news on the horizon as the centre is set to undergo a £1.3m expansion ahead of the Tour de Yorkshire's visit to the region in May.

The centre offers a range of services for visiting cyclists, including bunk bed accommodation, bike repairs, and a café and bike wash service.

The expansion plans include extending its bike hire provision and car park, adding an additional eight rooms of accommodation and more the trebling the capacity of his café from 23 covers to 70.

Stuart Price, who runs the business, said: “I wouldn’t be expanding without the Tour de Yorkshire.” “There’s no way a little business like ours would be looking at a £1.3m expansion without the confidence in this market and seeing a huge increase in business over the last few years.”

Mr Price said he was looking forward to seeing the race pass through some stunning sections of the Yorkshire Dales during the second stage of the men's race and day one of the women's race which both start from Skipton and finish at Leyburn.

“It’s a great area for cycling and it’s great that this year’s event will take in this climb at Grinton Moor," said Mr Price.

"This is a must-do route for a lot of cyclists."

Another Swaledale business badly impacted by the July floods was the Bridge Inn at Grinton.

The heavy rainfall washed away its entranceway bridge over Grinton Beck, damaged walls and flooded part of the building.

Andrew Atkin, landlord of the pub, said; “Obviously last year we had a terrible summer with the flooding which caused devastation - not just to this pub, but the whole of the dale.

“We lost a lot of trade during what should have been the busiest part of the year for us.

"But I have friends who lost a lot more; many people lost their homes.

"It really left a big mark on the place.

“But people are resilient and this year it would be nice to have an event which puts the focus back on the Dales and lets people know this area is open for business.”

Council leaders have also welcomed the news that the Tour de Yorkshire will shine the spotlight on parts of the Dales.

The route near Grinton will also take in a section of road where a masonry bridge was dramatically washed away by the floods, just over a mile south of Grinton.

North Yorkshire County Council engineers and contractors worked around the clock to have the Whipperdale Bank road reopened with a replacement bridge within about five weeks.

The Northern Echo:

Cllr Yvonne Peacock, Stuart Price and Cllr Carl Les at Grinton

North Yorkshire County Council leader, Cllr Carl Les said: “It’s not just the local economy which benefits; it’s also about community.

"Our towns and villages up and down North Yorkshire have demonstrated they have a real appetite for staging celebrations when the races come through.”

Richmondshire District Council leader, Councillor Angie Dale, said: “This is a massive event for Richmondshire and especially for Leyburn.

“We want Leyburn to be a finish to remember.

"The riders come into the market place having ridden a gruelling 124.5km from Skipton taking in some twists and turns – and climbs - along the way.”

Around £115,000 of funding to help stage the event was agreed by the district council's corporate board last week.