World-class cyclists back in Leeds as Tour de Yorkshire takes shape

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Yorkshire’s summer in the spotlight firmly established the county’s rolling hills on the international cycling map.

A global audience was enthralled by TV images of the spectator-lined routes through the spectacular Yorkshire Dales and South Pennines – a feat that is hoped to be relived, at least on a smaller scale, next year.

Organisers of the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire hope to bring back some of those fond memories, while grabbing the cycling world’s attention once more with sights of the Yorkshire coast from May 1 to 3 next year.

Hosts of the start and finish points of the event’s three stages have now been named as Leeds, York, Wakefield, Scarborough, Selby and Bridlington.

The race’s coastal visit will come as welcome news to many, although cycling fans in South Yorkshire look to have missed out on the race being organised by Welcome to Yorkshire, Tour de France owners Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) and local councils.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, explained that the race’s routes will change every year and that he is “delighted” address the issue of bringing cycling to the east coast.

“This is the first ever Tour de Yorkshire, I am confident it will become a huge annual event and something that will raise Yorkshire’s profile year on year,” he said.

The inaugural Tour de Yorkshire will include a men’s stage race on each of the three days as well as a women’s race on May 2 and a mass participation sportive on day three.

Inspired by the Tour de France’s L’Etape du Tour and delivered by firm Human Race, the sportive ride for amateurs will allow rides to opt to cover distances from 50km to 140km of the official May 3 race route.

Director of the Tour de France at ASO, Christian Prudhomme, said: “I am delighted we are returning to Yorkshire where we saw the grandest ever Grand Depart for the Tour de France.

“It is clear the people of Yorkshire are passionate about cycling and we can’t wait to bring them this new race.”

Thierry Gouvenou, Tour de France course director, will sign off the routes this year before they are unveiled with 100 days to go on January 21. The race is listed on the UCI world cycling body’s official race calendar.

During the unveiling of the 2015 Tour de Yorkshire hosts at Welcome to Yorkshire’s base in Holbeck, Leeds, organisers explained the significance of bringing the race both back to “key anchor tenants” such as Leeds and York, while taking the race to the places Le Tour did not reach this summer when more than 3million spectators ventured out to watch the July 5 and 6 stages from Leeds to Harrogate and York to Sheffield.

Mr Verity said: “This is another huge milestone for Yorkshire as we position the county as the cycling heartland of Europe.”

Last week it emerged that City of York Council agreed to contribute £150,000 in running costs to the event and will seek external funding to pay for its “hosting fee”, while Scarborough Borough Council committed £135,000 including running costs and a hosting fee.

Local authority contributions are expected to gradually be released by individual councils.

Coun Lucinda Yeadon, executive member for leisure at Leeds City Council, said the event is “carrying on the legacy which started this year”.

Coun David Chance, portfolio holder for tourism at Scarborough Borough Council, added: “We are extremely pleased, it’s the start of an iconic event. The investment is well worthwhile.”

DAY THREE SPORTIVE

A mass sportive over several distances will see amateurs get the chance to ride the same route as the professionals on day three of the Tour de Yorkshire.

Thousands are expected to take part in the ride on May 3, inspired by the Tour de France’s, will be delivered by Human Race – owners of the Dragon Ride – in collaboration with the Tour de Yorkshire organisers.

Riders can register their interest at www.letouryorkshire.com.

Bernard Hinault, five times Tour de France winner, said: “To have this similar experience available at the Tour de Yorkshire will be magnifique and something all keen riders will want to be part of.”