WITH just 100 days to go before the Tour de France starts in the Yorkshire Dales, hotels, campsites and B&Bs over the border in East Lancashire are looking to capitalise on a tourism boom.

The first two stages of the Tour are expected to attract up to three million spectators when the race arrives in July.

And, as five times Tour winner Bernard Hinault got back on his bike to ride a short stretch of the route through Cragg Vale, near Halifax, to mark the countdown, businesses have been urged not to miss the ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’.

Mark Turner, programme and operations director at Pennine Prospects, said: “Businesses in East Lancashire can get the message across that they are in a fantastic location for walking and cycling, and people will come back. This is a once on a lifetime opportunity.”

The first stage of the Tour will pass through Skipton and Pendle Council is keen for the impact of the world’s most famous bike race to be felt in the borough.

Coun Paul White, who leads on tourism for Pendle Council, said: “We want to offer camp sites in Pendle during the Tour.

“Skipton will not have the space to cater for everyone and we are only down the road, especially in West Craven. I think Nelson and Colne Rugby Club are looking at running a camp site, and we are looking into it at Barnoldswick Town Football Club.

“We have the facilities here and we can put on an event in the evening when everybody gets back.

“We are talking millions of people. It is a massive opportunity.

“Once people are staying in Pendle they will be spending money in shops, pubs and restaurants.”

Moira Mitchell, who owns Parrock Lumb Cottages, in Sharneyford, near Bacup, said businesses in East Lancashire could pick up more bookings as the race moves closer.

“We have one booking from the Isle of Man for the start of the Tour,” she said.

“We’ve been keeping up-to-date with the latest developments and I think more and more people will start looking for accommodation in Lancashire the closer it gets to the start.

“Both days stages are very accessible from East Lancashire so it is easy to stay on this side of the border.”

Natalie Barnes, who owns the Spread Eagle, Sawley, said: “The Tour is something we’re aware of and it’s something we’ve been thinking about.”