As Simon Yates was celebrating his victory in the La Vuelta a España, behind the scenes the team responsible for the cycling boom in Yorkshire were hard at work plotting the next major event to come to the region.
And it is looking increasingly likely that the Grand Départ of the Vuelta – one of cycling’s three grand tours – is coming to Yorkshire in the next few years.
Officials at Welcome to Yorkshire, the architects of the hugely successful Grand Départ of the Tour de France through Yorkshire in 2014, have already been given assurances by Tour director Christian Prudhomme that it is a matter of ‘when, not if’ the world’s most famous race returns to the Broad Acres.
And with Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) also responsible for putting on the Vuelta, Welcome to Yorkshire is holding advanced talks over bringing both events to a county that four years ago showed it has the stunning scenery and the passionate fans to stage memorable races.
Yorkshire is benefiting hugely from that never-to-be-forgotten weekend with an annual race on the European cycling calendar every May as well as the staging of the UCI Road World Championships next year. The exact routes for that eight-day extravaganza will be revealed next week during the 2017 championships which will be held in Innsbruck.
With that to come in 12 months, followed by the potential of a second Tour de France Grand Départ as well as the start of the Vuelta, Yorkshire’s reputation as the new capital of world cycling could last well into the next decade.
Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive, Sir Gary Verity, began talks with Vuelta race director Javier Guillén during this year’s Tour de Yorkshire, when the latter was a guest of the race organisers. Mr Verity was in Madrid continuing talks on Sunday night when Yates was crowned the third different British cyclist to win one of the Grand Tours in 2018 – the first time any country has managed that feat.
No timescale is yet in place but it is understood discussions are progressing well and all that remains is a year that suits both parties, and one that fits in with the broader aim of bringing the Tour de France’s Grand Départ back to Yorkshire.
The Vuelta is traditionally not as nomadic a race as the Tour de France, or indeed the Giro d’Italia, and if Yorkshire is successful, it would be the first time the Tour of Spain has been staged in the United Kingdom.
“The Vuelta a España is such an iconic cycling event and we would love it to one day start in Yorkshire,” said Mr Verity. “The benefits of hosting the world’s best bike races are numerous. Not only do they promote Yorkshire on a truly global scale, they bring vast economic benefits to the county.
“The 2018 Tour de Yorkshire grew the Yorkshire economy by £98m. That’s why we’ve worked so hard to bring the UCI Road World Championships to the county in 2019, and why we’d love to see the Vuelta a España commence here in the future.”
Competition for either Grand Tour could emerge from Wales, with the principality’s government opening their own talks with ASO and the Giro d’Italia – which is run by a different company – for that region to tap into the feelgood factor generated by Geraint Thomas’s Tour de France win.
And another thing...
Four Yorkshire-branded cars completed their own tour of Spain on Sunday evening after forming part of the Vuelta a España’s publicity caravan.
The BMW X3s crossed the finish line in Madrid just hours before the riders, bringing to an end their 2,033 miles voyage around Spain.
Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive, Sir Gary Verity, said: “This was an excellent opportunity to raise Yorkshire’s profile right across Spain.
“The publicity caravan allowed us to showcase Yorkshire to a vast new audience and extol the virtues about what a special place it is to visit and cycle in, whether you’re a complete beginner or one of the world’s best riders.”