Bid in for Northern Ireland and Ireland to host future Tour de France

The Economy Minister has submitted a joint bid with the Irish Tourism Minister to host a future Tour de France.

The popular cycling race could see its first stages competed in Northern Ireland in 2026 or 2027.

The last time the country hosted a global cycling event was in 2014, when towns and cities turned pink to welcome the riders of the Giro D'Italia.

East Belfast cycling shop owner, Dave Kane, told UTV: "We had everything at that time painted pink, including the sheep... at this competition maybe you'll see yellow sheep running around the countryside!"

He continued: "It's not a thing where you have to pay money, it's at the side of the road. People can go out to watch it on the hills or going through the towns.

"It'll just bring so much to the economy and to the country."

An expression of interest has been submitted by Economy Minister Gordon Lyons and Irish Tourism Minister Catherine Martin.

And while the process is competitive, the DUP MLA says he's hopeful.

"The consequences for Northern Ireland could be incredible.

"We know from the Giro how successful that was, broadcast over 175 countries, into 125 million households and it really gives us an opportunity to showcase the best of Northern Ireland," said Mr Lyons."

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