Yorkshire becomes just one of eight UCI Bike Regions in the world
Yorkshire's reputation as a cycling mecca has been enhanced with the announcement that it has been awarded UCI Bike Region status.
Only eight cities and regions around the world currently hold the honour from global body the Union Cycliste Internationale.
Yorkshire shot to cycling prominence when it hosted the Grand Depart during the 2014 Tour de France, and it has since seen a huge increase in bike tourism, particularly in the Dales.
The Tour de Yorkshire legacy event has further boosted the sport's profile.
The county is the first British region to receive the accolade, with the other seven hotspots all located in continental Europe.
Fyn in Denmark, Gelderland in the Netherlands, Heusden-Zolder in Belgium and Woensdrecht in the Netherlands have joined Bergen in Norway and two more Dutch regions, Drenthe and Limburg-Valkenburg, on the UCI list.
Criteria for being awarded the status include an outstanding commitment to growing and promoting everyday cycling and a track record of hosting major UCI cycling events.
Yorkshire was praised for headline initiatives including the Â£35million Cycle Superhighway route between Leeds and Bradford and the 46 Yorkshire Bank-sponsored bike libraries located around the county.
The UCI World Road Championships are coming to Yorkshire in 2019, with 12 races over nine days and 1,000 riders from 75 countries due to compete.
UCI president Brian Cookson said:
“We are very pleased to expand our network of UCI Bike Cities and Regions and I would like to congratulate the five new recipients for the excellent work they carry out in their respective communities to develop cycling in all its forms. They are shining examples of what can be achieved.
“We look forward to promoting their ambitious projects and hope these will inspire other countries to develop bike-friendly environments for their communities and visitors.”
Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, added:
“We are thrilled that Yorkshire has been granted UCI Bike Region status and it is testament to the great work that has been done – and continues to be done – across the county.
“The UCI award these labels to cities and regions that promote cycling, and use it as a way to create better, safer and more active communities.
“In Yorkshire we are doing just that and it’s tremendous news that our combined efforts are being recognised in such high quarters.”