Council leaders hope the arrival of the Tour will help encourage residents to take up a new sport.

The Tour de France’s Grand Depart trophy, which is held each year by the city hosting the start of the race, was in Chelmsford today, before returning back to Leeds.

It features a brass wheel in two parts containing the engraved names of the starting city.

The race comes to Essex on July 7 as part of a 159km stage from Cambridge to London.

Two Essex riders, Alex Dowsett and Ian Stannard, are likely to take part in this year’s race alongside fellow Brits including Chris Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Ann Naylor, Essex County Council cabinet member for health, said: “Why not see stage three of the Tour de France in Essex as the call to take up a new sport.”