The Yorkshire Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014 kicks off exactly four weeks tonight with a spectacular Opening Ceremony and Team Presentation at the Leeds Arena.
Defending champion Chris Froome and sprint sensation Mark Cavendish, whose mother is from Harrogate, will be among 22 top cycling stars to greet the crowd on July 3, in a glittering ceremony showcasing some of the county’s top entertainment talent.
Yorkshire band Embrace will headline the event, which will be their first arena gig since their recent sell-out comeback tour and album. Their latest album went straight into the national album chart at number 5.
Embrace frontman Danny McNamara said: “It’s going to be amazing, to have one of the biggest annual sporting events in the world coming to our back yard and to be part of it is nothing short of massive, we're really looking forward to it!"
Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh will join York singer/songwriter Alistair Griffin on stage to perform the track he wrote called The Road – the official anthem of Yorkshire's Grand Départ 2014.
Kimberley, who is from Bradford, said: “It is going to be a night to remember and one where we make history together, giving the Tour de France a true Yorkshire welcome. Performing at this event with Alistair in our home county is going to be a special moment for me.”
To celebrate the collaboration between Yorkshire and France, million selling French singer Pauline Vassuer will sing her hit “Allo le Monde”.
The orchestra and chorus of Opera North will perform music specially created for the event live throughout the ceremony.
The band Hope and Social, one of the stars of the hugely successful Yorkshire Festival, will also take part – teaming up with 100 performers of all ages who’ve joined them as they’ve taken their Tour of Infinite Possibility around the county.
Hosts, ITV sports presenter Jill Douglas and the voice of the Tour de France Sebastien Piquet, will interview riders from the teams and Team Sky will parade their top secret Pinarello's Dogma F8 bikes which have been a year in the making and are reportedly the best bikes the team have ever ridden.
Executive producer Martin Green, who was Head of Ceremonies at the London 2012 Olympics, said: "We're breaking new ground here for the Tour de France with this ambitious show - it's something much bigger and completely new to the cycling world.
"With the theme of the event The People of Yorkshire Welcome the World, this will give the riders the entrance they deserve as the Yorkshire Grand Départ celebrations begin."
Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "We know how enthusiastic millions of people are to make sure they get a chance to be part of the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire and their first opportunity will be at the Opening Ceremony and Team Presentation on Thursday July 3.
"Thousands of people will be able to see up close and hear from these cycling stars, witnessing a moment in history and making the Tour’s arrival an unforgettable experience."
The show will be broadcast around the world, with a special programme in the UK on ITV 4.
Tickets for the not-for-profit event start at £45 upwards (all the highest priced £85 tickets sold out in minutes) and are available at [www.letouryorkshire.com/
tickets](http://www.letouryorkshire.com/tickets) by phone on 0844 248 1585 or from the box office in Trinity Leeds shopping centre where no booking fee applies.
Another chance to see our Tour de France special programme live from Kettlewell in North Yorkshire
A special programme about how the world's biggest bike race came to begin in Yorkshire
We have pulled together some of our favourite pictures and tweets from across the weekend of Le Grand Départ. Did your shots make it in?