A WORLD-renowned artist will be casting his characteristic eye over the Tour De France as he works on a series of images celebrating its anticipated arrival in the North.

Mackenzie Thorpe has already started work on six paintings drawing on memories of his hometown as well as the stunning landscape that will create a spectacular backdrop to the world’s most famous cycling road race.

The Middlesbrough-born artist, who didn’t learn to ride a bike until he was 21-years-old, is delighted that the historic race will be visiting North Yorkshire.

“As soon as I heard that it was coming to the North, I wanted to be involved and I wanted to create something to celebrate the occasion,” he said of the Grand Depart, the first day of the event. “I have been asked to do something for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and I’m really excited about that, but this is so close to home I couldn’t wait to get involved.

“I have already done six pictures drawing on all kinds of my experiences, and the landscape that the race will come through.”

Among the aspects that the artist will be focussing on is the amount of people who used to ride bikes to work when he was a youngster growing up in Middlesbrough.

He said: “I recall my uncle telling me that when everyone left Smiths Dock it was like the Tour de France, with hundreds of men racing to get home.

"I wanted some of the things that reminded me of that, so one of the works I’ve already done is of people leaving a night shift at the docks.

“Another image that I have created is people riding on their bikes through the Yorkshire Dales with the wind in their faces.”

The artist, who is renowned for his distinctive style, is urging everyone in the region to get behind the Tour De France.

He said: “There have been people complaining about the cost and about the fact the riders will only be here for half-an-hour, but I just say to them ‘I don’t care, the photographs and images that are going to come out of it will never, ever be taken again’.

“I just want to celebrate something this important coming to the North – to me it is a really big deal.”

The riders are predicted to reach North Yorkshire on the morning of Saturday, July 5, travelling through the most spectacular scenery in Wensleydale and Swaledale.