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Tour head inspects Yorkshire route

The head of the Tour de France has inspected part of the route of next year's race in Yorkshire and spoke of his excitement at the prospect of Britain's world-beating cyclists competing along the country lanes.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme saw for himself the preparations already under way for the Tour's Grand Depart 2014 when he visited North Yorkshire.

As Mr Prudhomme was shown some of the road improvements being made to the route, he said he could not wait to see British cyclists being cheered along by large crowds on stage one of next year's race.

And he said it will be incredible to watch sprint specialist Mark Cavendish heading into Harrogate - the end of stage one and home to his mother, Adele.

"I can imagine for Mark Cavendish this first stage of 2014 is the most important sprint of his life," Mr Prudhomme said.

"A win in Yorkshire, at his mother's place, for a yellow jersey. It would be his first yellow jersey.

"From the first day in Yorkshire in 2014 everything will be very important."

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, who masterminded the county's successful bid for next year's Grand Depart, said: "Our perfect scenario would be: weather identical to today, a fantastic first 190km and then Cav winning with a sprint finish on The Stray in Harrogate. That would be our dream day."

The opening stage - on July 5 next year - starts in the centre of Leeds. Despite it winding through the Yorkshire Dales before its end in Harrogate, it is regarded as a flat stage for sprinters in Tour de France thinking.

Stage two will begin in York and take in some of the most testing climbs in the UK before finishing in Sheffield. The race will then move south for a stage from Cambridge to London before heading back over the Channel.

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