The 2007 Tour de France will begin in London, Mayor Ken Livingstone announced on Tuesday.
The world's top cyclists will ride past the capital's main attractions
It is the third time the Tour has visited England but the first time it has ventured into the capital.
London will host two stages, the first a prologue in the city centre on 7 July with the second starting in London before heading south through Kent.
The route has yet to be finalised but landmarks such as Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square will feature.
And Team GB cycling manager David Brailsford believes the news will inspire people to take up the sport.
"From a performance point of view, it's fantastic for our best British riders to perform in the biggest race in the world on home soil, particularly Bradley Wiggins and Dave Millar," he said.
"But also from a general sporting point of view, it will also focus everyone's attention on the sport and increase levels of participation in our fantastic sport.
"Furthermore, in light of the 2012 Olympics it's great to be able to show we're capable of hosting one of the biggest events in the world."
The Tour has started in an array of different venues, including Dublin and Liege in recent years.
It made its debut in 1974 in Plymouth before returning to English soil 20 years later just after England's Chris Boardman had been leading the race.
Livingstone said: "Hosting the first stage of the legendary French cycle race will raise the profile of cycling in the capital, attract visitors and promote the capital as a venue for international sporting events."
The announcement was heralded by Boardman, who admitted he was amazed by the turnout from the British public when the Tour last visited England.
He told Radio Five Live: "The last time the Tour visisted these shores two-and-a-half to three million people lined the roads. It was quite a spectacle.
"That will at least be trebled in the capital.
"We have a number of riders in Britain who can take the leader's yellow jersey - Bradley Wiggins is one that springs to mind - so that would be quite something for the British public."