YORKSHIRE has become the first place in the UK to be officially recognised as a UCI Bike Region.

The coveted accolade was handed over at a glittering ceremony in Bergen, Norway, which was hosting the UCI Road World Championships.

It comes less than five months after the latest, hugely-successful Tour de Yorkshire, which saw top international cyclists race through the district.

Yorkshire is among just five areas worldwide to receive the Bike Region honour this year.

And only eight locations have been granted the status since it was relaunched in 2015.

The UCI, cycling’s world governing body, bestows the honour on areas it feels have demonstrated “outstanding commitment to growing and promoting everyday cycling” as well as hosting major UCI events.

Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said he was “thrilled” at the accolade.

“It is testament to the great work that has been done – and continues to be done – across the county,” he said.

“The UCI awards 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.”

The news is also welcomed by Craven Council leader, Councillor Richard Foster.

He said Craven had played its part in promoting cycling in Yorkshire.

“We have built on the legacy of the 2014 Tour de France – hosting the Tour de Yorkshire stage one finish at Settle in 2016, setting-up the fantastic Skipton Cycle Races and putting on events such as Le Petit Depart sportive and Skipton Triathlon,” he added.

“We’re also improving links for cyclists by ensuring investment in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towpath.

“All this work helps promote Craven and Yorkshire as a whole to audiences across the globe, attracting tourism and boosting our local economy.”

Cycling initiatives in the county have included the opening of Yorkshire Bank bike libraries where youngsters can gain free access to bikes.

The 40-plus venues include University Academy Keighley.

Sports minister, Tracey Crouch, said Yorkshire’s UCI accolade was well deserved.

“It is testament to the hard work of all those involved in opening up the region to cyclists and the lasting legacy from hosting the Tour de France Grand Depart in 2014 and the Tour de Yorkshires since,” she said.

“I know the people of Yorkshire will also get right behind the UCI World Road Championships when they come to the region in 2019 and that will further cement the county’s strong links to cycling.”