The Tour de France - the world's biggest road cycling race - starts in the UK this year and interest from 188 countries makes it a real money spinner. Ciara Sutton got on her bike in Yorkshire, which is the starting point and stands to gain the most.
Yorkshire - home to unspoiled countryside and the UK's biggest cycling club. The Ilkley cyclists are gearing up for their biggest ever event... and they're not even taking part. The opening stage of the Tour de France will travel through the Yorkshire Dales. The world's largest annual sporting event covers over 3 and a half thousand kilometres. Every year a different country hosts the Grand Depart, and this year Yorkshire has the honour. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER CIARA SUTTON SAYING: Cycling's popularity in the UK has surged in recent years, partly down to the success of Team Sky, but also GB's track cycling teams. But business leaders hope that with 3 and a half billion people tuning in around the world to watch it on their televisions, as well as the millions of people flocking to Yorkshire, the financial rewards could be even bigger." PriceWaterhouse Coopers says the Grand Depart will be worth over 100 million pounds to the region. And the man behind the winning bid, Gary Verity, thinks the legacy could be worth even more. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WELCOME TO YORKSHIRE CHIEF EXECUTIVE GARY VERITY, SAYING: "A Canadian bank we were speaking to yesterday are moving their operations to Leeds because of the Tour de France, because they realise that Leeds is this great place. A lot of people will not know Yorkshire. They won't know we're a hidden gem. We've got a population of 6 million people, the same size of Scotland, four times that of Northern Ireland. Twice the population of Uruguay. There's a hot bed of entrepreneurial spirit in Yorkshire and businesses are seeing the opportunity in that and tapping in to it. Whole towns and villages are embracing the iconic race. And Yorkshire's reaction to it is taking some by surprise says Ian Morrison from PriceWaterhouse Coopers. (SOUNDBITE) (English) IAN MORRISON, YORKSHIRE REGIONAL LEADER FOR PWC, SAYING: "I think as it gets closer and you realise what a worldwide event the Tour de France is. I think to start with people weren't fully aware that it was quite this big, but it's now being described as like the Olympics coming to Yorkshire." But it's not been a smooth ride. Road cycling is still reeling from years of doping scandals and the downfall of its former icon Lance Armstrong. The success of young cyclists like Yorkshire's Lizzie Armistead is helping restore the fans' trust. And for many that could be the real the legacy of Yorkshire. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ILKLEY CYCLING CLUB MEMBER, MARY, SAYING: "It's brought us a new lease of life and hopefully it will for other ladies. I am trying to encourage friends and family to cycle, so hopefully that will be the legacy the Tour leaves us." For the hotels, restaurants and tourist hot-spots of Yorkshire the event is more gold than yellow. The rest of the race stages may take place in France. But 2,000 journalists will be reporting for 188 countries throughout the three week event - that's almost every country in the world and almost as many as the World Cup.