VISITORS starting lining the streets of Skipton early on Saturday morning in preparation for the Tour de France's Grand Depart.

Sean and Jayne Steele came from Preston with their four children, Grace, Frankie, Archie and Harvey, and the children's grandparents Margaret and Alan Steele.

Staying in a caravan at Paythorne, near Gisburn, the family of eight, along with their Boxer dog Roxy, arrived on at 6am and set up chairs along the barriers on Skipton's High Street.

Alan said: "It's good for Yorkshire. Skipton has been terrific, and I can't praise the people and the shops enough. I'm looking forward to seeing the riders flying through."

After the parade starts coming through Skipton at around 10.50am, it is anticipated the first of the Tour riders will arrive on the High Street at 12.49pm.

Sean appreciated the hard work and early opening of Skipton's local businesses.

He said: "I'm glad the shops have made the effort to accommodate us."

Many local businesses, like Hettie's cafe on the High Street, opened early for Tour-goers.

Owner David Roberts said he has a thousand bacon baps and picnics to sell on the day.

Although he said trade had been slow to start with, he said: "It's a lovely atmosphere. We want people to have a good time and remember this event."

Chris and Susan James came from Longridge, near Preston, to see the riders pass through Skipton.

They arrived on the High Street at 5.30am and also said it was very quiet early on.

"We go on holiday to France a lot but never actually see the event itself ," said avid cyclist Chris. "So to get the chance to see it in England is fantastic."

The couple believe that Chris Froome could win the Tour de France, but they think Mark Cavendish is favourite to win the first stage.

Stuart Moore, from York, and Carolyn Richards, of Doncaster, arrived in Skipton at around 7am.

Stuart said: "This is a once in a lifetime thing. It's all about the atmosphere, and is not so much the cycling because the cyclists go past so quickly."

Carolyn said Skipton is "decked out" for the occasion, saying: "It's fabulous. I always watch it on TV, and now I can watch it in person. It's also good to see all the amateurs cycling the route so early in the morning."

Cyclists Tim, Helen and Michael Trew came from Bristol, Leeds and London, respectively, to watch the event.

Tim said it took him seven hours to drive up from Bristol and he admitted he saw a lot of cars carrying bikes on the way.

Speaking from outside Skipton Train Station, the trio were cycling into the Dales to see how they could get before the roads were shut to cyclists. Helen anticipated they would be stopping in Grassington.

She said the Tour was great for Yorkshire.

"Leeds doesn't have much of an identity, so it gives them a sense owning something. It's good for tourism."

"It's amazingly well organised, I thought it was going to be chaos."

Cyclists Phil Knights and his son Ed came all the way from Devon to enjoy the world's largest cycling race.

Speaking on Skipton's High Street at 7.30am, Phil said: "It's brilliant and there's a great atmosphere, even at this time of the morning."

A member of Yogi Cycling Club in Plymouth, Phil added: "There are some decent climbs and the narrow roads of the Dales will present a big challenge to the cyclists."