Sports minister Hugh Robertson has hailed the 2014 Tour de France – which visits Sheffield – as ‘the next big thing’.
Mr Robertson was in Yorkshire to see the preparations for the Grand Départ – the opening stages of the world’s most famous bike race – which comes to the region next summer.
Stage one, on Friday, July 5, starts in Leeds and takes the riders through the Yorkshire Dales to Harrogate.
The next day, the Tour moves to York for a stage which includes some of the best climbs in British cycling on its way to Sheffield.
The third stage moves south, from Cambridge to London, before the race moves to France.
Mr Roberson said: “I genuinely can’t think of a time in my adult life – and I was 50 last year – when British sport has been in better shape than it is at the moment.
“That’s partially the Olympic effect, but sports outside the Olympics are also performing well.
“Next year’s Grand Départ, after the Rugby League World Cup this winter, is the next big thing on the runway and we are looking forward to it.”
“Yorkshire was one of the best performing counties during last year’s Olympics and enormous amounts of people turned out to watch the torch.
“I suspect that was what in some way gave birth to the idea of bidding for this Grand Départ.
“We’re absolutely delighted it’s coming to Yorkshire. It’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase Yorkshire as a county, to showcase its businesses, its tourism offer, everything it’s got.”