Yorkshire gears up for the 101st Tour de France

Yorkshire painted yellow ahead of the the Tour de France. Photo: PA

The people of Yorkshire have been painting the town and countryside yellow ahead of the Grand Depart of the 101st Tour de France.

Excitement appears to be reaching a fever pitch ahead of this weekend's race, and millions are expected to line the routes as the tour snakes its way through some of England's most magnificent countryside.

The Upper Wensleydale mountain bike.
The Upper Wensleydale mountain bike. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The opening stage will see the riders go from Leeds to Harrogate on Saturday, then on Sunday they will journey from York to Sheffield, before Monday's third stage from Cambridge to London.

Read: Giant mountain bike celebrates Grand Depart

Roadside sculptures in Leyburn. Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said he was thrilled and impressed by the efforts people have went to.

Yellow bicycles adorn the route, town and city centres, clubs and pubs, hotels and B&B's, public buildings, as well as many other, unlikely, spaces.

Yellow bikes have been appearing in unlikely places.

Read: Final preparations in Leeds for Grand Départ

Tour organisers were welcomed into Leeds-Bradford airport on Monday evening by the French national anthem. Prudhomme said:

I'm very excited. I'm thrilled and impressed with Yorkshire and all its people have done.

A yellow bike suspended high above Leeds. Credit: ITV News

Business are preparing for busy days, as crowds begin to gather ahead of the weekend. Prudhomme said he hoped the event would raise the profile of cycling in the region, as well as allow those watching across the world the opportunity to enjoy Yorkshire's stunning scenery.

Alongside the public interest for cycling, highlighted by the Grand Depart, Yorkshire boasts beautiful breathtaking scenery worthy of any of the cycling season's major events.

Among the sights will be some unusually brightly coloured sheep, as a few farmers, including Richard Appleton have decorated their livestock ahead of the event.

Richard Appleton with his yellow sheep. Credit: ITV News

More: How Yorkshire is getting geared up for Le Tour

Defeneding champion Chris Froom and 25-time stage winner Mark Cavendish will be among the 198 riders from 22 teams setting off this weekend from the University of Leeds, the Tour's most northern starting point yet.

A yellow jersey in Leeds city centre. Credit: ITV News

It will mark the start of the UK's second Grand Depart - after London in 2007 - and the fourth visit of cycling's biggest race across The Channel following 1974, 1994 and seven years' ago.

ITV News reporter Damon Green joins those making final preparations in the town of Otley.

More: ITV News Correspondent takes on Tour de France challenge