THE Tour de France's visit to North Yorkshire later this year took a step closer when the trophy awarded to the city hosting the opening stage arrived in the North.

The world's most famous bike race will start in Leeds in six months time.

And the city has now taken delivery of the Grand Depart trophy.

The trophy, created by the Tour de France organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), was presented for the first time last year to the island of Corsica which hosted the Grand Depart of the centenary Tour.

After Britain's Chris Froome won the race, the trophy was passed over on the finish line on the Champs-Elysees by president of the Executive Council of Corsica Paul Giacobbi to chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity, who led the bid to bring the Tour de France to Yorkshire.

It has now gone on display outside the council chamber in Leeds Civic Hall.

Froome, Sir Bradley Wiggins and the other cycling superstars will line up on The Headrow, in the city, on July 5.

The first stage will take the riders through the Yorkshire Dales to Harrogate. The race will then move on to a second stage between York and Sheffield and a third stage from Cambridge to central London.

Mr Verity said: "This is a great chance for everyone to see the trophy up close and personal. Its wonderful to see Yorkshire inscribed on this impressive trophy and our county associated with the Tour.

"It also brings home the fact for many that the Tour de France really is coming and we are just months away from a historic moment for Yorkshire and its people."

Tour De France fever has already gripped the region. Earlier this month it was announced that 26,000 people had applied for the 10,000 voluntary Tourmakers posts.

North Yorkshire County Council predicts that more than 680,000 spectators will line the route of the first stage through the Dales and Ripon alone, many standing for five hours to see the 200 riders preceded by a 185-strong caravan of race and sponsors' vehicles.