NORTH Yorkshire County Council has pledged its backing to help ensure a popular international cycle race which takes in swathes of the region can go ahead next year.

The authority had already agreed to provide £100,000 for the 2022 Tour de Yorkshire.

Now it has offered to make a further £100,000 sum available, if needed, to help guarantee the event takes place.

The Tour is set to return after a two-year absence due to the pandemic.

Previous races have encompassed many parts of North Yorkshire, including South Craven. It has also come through the Worth Valley.

Precise dates and routes are still to be finalised for next year. But on the fourth day cyclists are likely to take in this area when they ride from Halifax to Leeds, with half the 177.5km section being in North Yorkshire.

The 2022 race will be the culmination of a new cultural festival, being organised by Welcome to Yorkshire, designed to help boost the region’s post-pandemic recovery.

County Councillor Gareth Dadd, executive member for resources, said: “This decision to support the event helps to secure the economic recovery of North Yorkshire and the wider region.

“There has never been a more critical moment to stand-up for North Yorkshire and the region and to do our bit to help drive lasting economic recovery.

“A vibrant festival showcasing the very best of our outstanding food, drink, heritage and culture will have a big role to play in that.

“We had already pledged a £100,000 contribution to the rescheduled Tour – funds originally generated from business rate surpluses and earmarked to support economic development.

“These are incredibly difficult times for many businesses and organisations, as they fight to survive and get back on their feet after an unprecedented 15 months of pandemic. We have therefore agreed an additional sum of up to £100,000, which may not be needed. This would be a surety for Welcome to Yorkshire, which is organising the event, to ensure it is able to go ahead if there is insufficient sponsorship. Time is not on our side here. Planning must progress without delay.

“Businesses linked to the cycling and the visitor economy benefit from increased spending and there is a unique feel-good factor.”