County in cycle ‘champions league’

Cyclist Liam Wilton rides past the Cow and Calf, Ilkley..28th September 2017 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

Yorkshire has now reached the “Champions League” of cycling, tourism leaders have said, as the host towns and cities are revealed for the region’s premier road race.

Details have emerged of the eight areas to host the Tour de Yorkshire 2018, a race which brought an estimated £64m economic boost to the region over three days last spring. And with a newly extended race timetable, Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity has said, the region has hopes of attracting some of the biggest names in sport. This takes us to another league,” he said.

“It means more global coverage for Yorkshire – these images are going to go all around the world. It’s raising the race to another level. And we are now able to attract the best racers in the world. Mark Cavendish would love to race I’m sure, and maybe Marcel Kittel.

“Inevitably, it means we can 
attract the very best general classification categories, so we can attract the likes of Chris 
Froome. We are really moving into the champion’s league 
now.”

The full list of eight town and cities revealed to host either the start or finish of next May’s race are Barnsley, Beverley, Doncaster, Halifax, Ilkley, Leeds, Richmond and Scarborough.

Last year, it drew crowds of 2.2m people who lined the route, and was broadcast to 8.9m people in 180 countries. With the announcement that the men’s race will expand from three days to four, and the women’s from one to two, it is hoped the benefits to the region will be even bigger.

“There’s going to be hundreds of thousands of people out lining the route,” said Sir Gary. “You have an immediate economic impact – on hotels, restaurants, bars. But then there’s the ongoing impact, in people talking about Yorkshire. It gives us a level of recognition and visitors throughout the year. It’s quite interesting how something as simple as a bike race, can have this effect and put such a stamp on cycling.”

Diginitaries gathered in Leeds yesterday for the announcement, although exact details of the routes won’t be revealed until December. Caroline Lacey, chief executive of East Riding Council, said the authority was “really excited” at the prospect: “It showcases the whole area to a huge audience, bringing a massive boost to the wider economy,” she said.

Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe said it was not only a boost to the region’s economy, but to communities: “Every year we’ve seen people coming out in their thousands. Communities coming together like that is tremendous, both for the district and for people’s enjoyment of where they live.”

David Bowe, corporate director of business and environmental services for North Yorkshire County Council, said everyone benefited: “It’s a real positive.

“Not just for the event itself, it’s much more about the economic impact with being broadcast globally. More than that, there’s a real community benefit, with whole villages and towns coming together.”

And Jim Dillon, chief executive of Scarborough Council, said the area had already seen a large increase in the number of overseas visitors, which he believed was linked to last year’s coverage: “It’s showcased to the world–- you can’t buy that. There’s also a sense of immense pride we don’t always appreciate how brilliant these places are. And no other event gets such enthusiasm.”

Organised by Welcome to Yorkshire and the Amaury Sport Organisation, the Tour de Yorkshire will take place between May 3 and 6, with the women’s race over May 3 and 4.

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