British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme rider Mark Cavendish has spoken of his excitement at the prospect of riding the Tour de France on British roads for the second time in his career, as the symbolic Grand Depart trophy arrives in Leeds.
"I'm super excited, especially with the first stage finishing in my mother's hometown of Harrogate."
The trophy has been created by the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the organising body of the Tour de France, and was used for the first time in 2013 when the Grand Depart was held on the island of Corsica.
At the conclusion of the race the trophy was passed over the finish line on the Champs-Elysees from president of the executive council of Corsica, Paul Giacobbi, to the chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, Gary Verity, moments after Team Sky’s Chris Froome had sealed Britain’s second consecutive Tour de France victory.
Speaking a day before the arrival of the Grand Depart trophy, Mark Cavendish was at an Omega Pharma Quick-Step team press conference and his excitement at competing at the Tour with home support was evident.
"It's the second time in my career that it starts in the UK. In 2007 when it started in London, cycling wasn't even popular and the amount of people out watching the race was incredible. So with the profile of cycling in the UK now, I think with the Tour de France starting there again it will be beyond words.
"I'm super excited, especially with the first stage finishing in my mother's hometown of Harrogate. The finishing straight is a straight I know very well. I spent a lot of time there as a child and hopefully it provides a bunch sprint. I'd like a chance to win the yellow jersey.”
The Grand Depart trophy has now gone on display outside the council chamber in Leeds Civic Hall.
Leader of Leeds City Council councillor Keith Wakefield said: "The interest and media coverage in the last couple of weeks to mark the new year and six months to go is an indication of how excited everyone is getting around Leeds and Yorkshire hosting the start of the Tour de France.
"We are honoured to host the Grand Depart trophy and hope lots of people come and see it and are inspired to get involved and support what is sure to be an amazing event when the Tour comes to Leeds in July."
Chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity said: "This is a great chance for everyone to see the trophy up close and personal. It's 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."