Edinburgh hopes to host Tour de France's Grand Depart

Britain"s Mark Cavendish (R) celebrates on the finish line on the famous Champs-Elysees avenue and last stage of the 2011 Tour de France

Edinburgh could host the Tour de France's Grand Depart in 2017.

The Scottish capital is being lined up to host the opening Tour prologue - a short time-trial stage - with Yorkshire bidding to host the Grand Depart in 2016.

It is understood Tour organiser Amaury Sports Organisation was impressed by Edinburgh on a recent visit.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: "To bring such a fantastic event to Scotland would be a huge coup."

London hosted the Grand Depart in 2007 and the Tour, in general, starts outside of France every other year.

In 2010, the race began in Rotterdam and the 2012 edition is set to start in Liege.

With Glasgow hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2014, the Rugby World Cup taking place in England a year later and 2016 being an Olympic year, 2017 is considered an ideal opportunity for the UK to host the Tour, which attracts two million people to the opening stage.

British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake said the last visit to Britain by the Tour was a "great success".

"British Cycling has embraced the opportunity to work with Scotland, helping them to fulfil their ambition of bringing the Grand Depart to Edinburgh," he added.