When we won the right to host the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 18 months ago, race weekend seemed like a distant prospect.
Now, all our hard work, all our preparation, is about to come together in what will undoubtedly be the biggest moment in the history of Yorkshire.
There is no question that Yorkshire has taken this famous event to its heart.
Yellow bicycles – big and small – line our streets, each one just a small reminder of how proud this county is to be hosting the start to the 101st edition of the world’s most historic cycle race.
And it is plain to see how passionate our towns, villages and communities have become about the Tour coming to Yorkshire.
There is kilometre upon kilometre of bunting, amazing artwork carved into our fields, and the most incredible displays of Tour fever across the county.
Everyone has fallen in love with the Tour de France, and the excitement across Yorkshire is there for all to see.
Even before a pedal turns on the start line in Leeds, we will have witnessed a succession of global achievements and world-firsts this year.
Yorkshire has been consistently named at the head of must-visit destination lists that have been compiled by those in the know – Lonely Planet, AOL and TripAdvisor to name just a few.
On top of that, we have worked to bring the first-ever Grand Départ volunteer programme in the Tour Makers; the first-ever official song for a Grand Départ with ‘The Road’; the first-ever official painting to a Grand Départ by Yorkshire artist Alister Colley; and the first-ever festival of art and culture in the 100 days leading up to the Grand Départ.
This year’s will be an exceptional Grand Départ, all the way from a world-class army of volunteers to a world-class Team Presentation at Leeds Arena.
Yorkshire Festival 2014 has been a resounding success, too, with breath-taking projects gracing the four corners of Yorkshire.
Spectators were wowed by the Ghost Peloton while the Tour of Infinite Possibility encouraged every man, woman and child to be part of the most amazing band Yorkshire has ever seen.
Just two projects among nearly 50 major commissions plus hundreds of amazing fringe events.
We are well aware that this is an unmissable opportunity to showcase Yorkshire to a global audience, and we will show the world that this county is a world-leading destination for tourism and business.
Millions of people will line each of the two Yorkshire stages this weekend, and television helicopters will beam images of our beautiful county into the homes of millions more across the world.
This is Yorkshire’s year, and 2014 will forever be remembered as the year Yorkshire brought the world’s largest sporting event to the UK.
There is no doubt it will be a game-changer for tourism in the county and we are determined to harness every opportunity that hosting the Tour de France brings.
The eyes of the world will soon be on Yorkshire as we gear up for the Grand Départ of the Tour de France, and the start of something truly sensational amd historic for this great county.