THE 101st Tour de France rolled out of Leeds this morning as Yorkshire proudly hosted the Grand Depart.

The peloton rode through the city to the official start at Harewood House, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry were due to give them a royal send-off before the race began in earnest.

The opening 190.5km stage will take the riders through the Yorkshire Dales before they loop back to the finish in Harrogate, where Mark Cavendish was hoping to take the leader's yellow jersey for the first time in his career - in his mother's home town.


Team SKY riders Geraint Thomas (left) and Bernhard Eisel are surrounded by cycling fans in Leeds ahead of the Grand Depart

Omega Pharma-QuickStep sprinter Cavendish was one of four British riders to take the start, along with defending champion Chris Froome and his Team Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas, and Orica GreenEdge's Simon Yates.

It was the second time cycling's biggest race has begun in Britain, following the 2007 Grand Depart in London, and the fourth time in total that stages have been held in the country.

Plymouth hosted a single stage in 1974 and two stages took place in the south of England in 1994.

On Sunday, stage two will see the riders take on some of Yorkshire's most famous climbs as they go from York to Sheffield, before Monday's stage from Cambridge to London, thorugh Essex, sets them on their way back to France.