Tourism agency also launches Back Le Bid webpage to allow public to express their support

Yorkshire tourism chiefs have confirmed that they have submitted a formal bid to Tour de France organisers ASO to bring the Grand Départ of the 2016 race to the North of England, reports BBC News. A dedicated page, Back Le Bid, has also been set up on the Yorkshire.com website to allow the public to pledge their support.

Since the first Grand Départ outside France which took place in Amsterdam in 1954, the race has got under way abroad on 17 further occasions, and nowadays tends to do so every two or three years. Among other potential candidates to host the start of the 2016 race are Barcelona, Venice, Berlin and, closer to home, Scotland.

Staff from Welcome to Yorkshire have been discussing the prospect of what is historically England’s largest county hosting the start of cycling’s biggest race since last year, with the proposed routes of the opening two stages taking in Leeds, Sheffield, Hull, York, Scarborough and the Yorkshire Dales.

Today’s news of a formal bid being submitted represents another milestone in the bid process, although going by past practice on ASO’s part it’s unlikely to be until 2014 or even 2015 that the identity of the venue for the 2016 Grand Départ is known.

Gary Verity, chief executive of regional tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire, commented: "It is the world's biggest annual sporting event, 88 million people every day watch it on the telly. It offers massive coverage.

"We are making a series of pitches which will culminate in a big meeting in two months time to try and persuade the organisers that Yorkshire is the place for them."

It has previously been revealed that a delegation from ASO will be visiting Yorkshire this May to see for themselves the proposed route of a Grand Départ in the region.

Britain last hosted the Tour de France in 2007, when London and Kent hosted the first two days of the race, with the Prologue won by Fabian Cancellara on the opening day and Robbie McEwen sprinting to victory in Stage 1 in Canterbury 24 hours later.

That year also saw the debut in the race of Britain’s most successful ever Tour de France rider in terms of stage wins, Mark Cavendish – although a crash towards the end of the stage through Kent denied him the chance to vie for his first stage win. He’s made up for it since, mind.

Last year, Cavendish, whose mother comes from Yorkshire, gave his backing to the region’s efforts to bring the Tour de France to the region.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.