The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their son Harry will join an estimated 2 million people watching the opening stages ("Le Grand Depart") of the 101<sup>st Tour de France in Yorkshire this weekend. Organised by Amaury Sport Organisation, this is the first time the Tour has visited England since 2007.
William and Kate will officially send off the 198 riders representing 22 teams in Leeds this morning in the first stage of the 2,277-mile (3,664km) race. The first stage will take competitors from Leeds to Harrogate. Tomorrow (Sunday) the racers will ride from York to Sheffield via Haworth, former home of the Brontë sisters, and Hebden Bridge.
Thousands of people are expected to line the route on both days, boosting the local economy, but also potentially causing traffic problems. Spectators are advised to check local media and websites when planning their journey.
The Welcome to Yorkshire tourism agency estimates the Tour could generate £100 million for the local economy. Being televised around the world the race will be a showcase for the county's stunning scenery, including the Dales and Pennines.
Fears have been expressed that some of the narrow roads lined with high dry-stone walls in 'God's Own County', as the locals call Yorkshire, may prove problematic for cyclists, but Bernard Hinault, a five-time winner of the Tour, says the riders will have to cope. "It's for the riders to adapt to the route, not for the route to adapt to the riders," he told Sky News.
The third stage of the Tour will take the riders from Cambridge to London, on Monday, before the race returns to its spiritual home, France, finishing in Paris on 27 July.
Britain is represented by Team Sky led by Chris Froome, the defending champion, who along with Spaniard Alberto Contador and Kazakhstan's Vincenzo Nibali is a favourite. Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 champion, will not be competing, officially due to a lack of fitness. But rumours persist the real reason is enmity between Wiggins and Froome, despite Froome's denials.