LEEDS will host the finish to next year’s extended Tour de Yorkshire, marking the first time the city centre has hosted world class cycling since the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France sparked the region’s love affair with the sport.
Just as it was four years earlier when Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish inched towards the start line, The Headrow will be heaving with people as the fourth annual Tour de Yorkshire concludes on Sunday, May 6, 2018.
Three years ago, the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire climaxed in Roundhay Park, but the city centre has not been closed off to international-calibre cyclists since that heady day back in July 2014, when the eyes of the world fell on Leeds for the start of the world’s greatest test of endurance, the Tour de France.
“The Headrow is iconic,” beamed Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of race organisers Welcome to Yorkshire and the man responsible for bringing major cycling events to the county.
“I remember as a kid, Billy Bremner and Don Revie standing on the steps of the town hall addressing thousands of people.
“Scroll forward a few decades to the start of the Tour de France there, and then next year the Tour de Yorkshire coming back - The Headrow lends itself well to these spectacular, historic moments.”
The route for the fourth annual Tour de Yorkshire - a race that was a direct legacy of the county’s staging of the first two days of the 2014 Tour de France - will be unveiled this morning at the Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax.
It is already known that joining Leeds as one of eight host towns for either stage starts or finishes is Barnsley, Doncaster, Beverley, Halifax, Ilkley, Richmond and Scarborough.
The Tour de Yorkshire has been extended from three to four days for next year, with the women’s race - won last year by the county’s own Lizzie Deignan - now taking place over two days instead of one.
“Getting the fourth day is a major thing for us,” added Sir Gary. “It gives it a balance for the men’s race with two flat stages and two stages for attackers, allowing us to attract different riders and giving the Yorkshire public more chance of seeing more riders more often throughout the four days. We’re particularly pleased to double the women’s race to two days.”
Together with co-organisers the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), Welcome to Yorkshire hope the move to four days brings a wider range of teams and star names with thoughts among organisers, and within the peloton, turning towards Yorkshire’s hosting of the UCI Road World Championships in September 2019.
“Every Tour de Yorkshire is in effect a dress rehearsal for the world championships,” added Sir Gary.
“There’ll be very little, if any of the routes of those championships, that aren’t on roads that have already cycled before, whether that be for the Tour de France or the Tour de Yorkshire.
“There’s a real buzz in the pro peloton about Yorkshire - that’s down to the Tour de France, the Tour de Yorkshire, the world championships coming here in 2019, and primarily the people of Yorkshire we get coming out.”
ORGANISERS behind the Tour de Yorkshire announced in September that the showpiece cycle race was to be extended with a fourth day added.
Welcome to Yorkshire and the Amaury Sport Organisation confirmed the extension to the race, which has run for three days since it was set up after the region hosted the Tour de France’s Grand Départ in 2014. The Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire will now run over two days instead of one.
The move to extend the event could be worth more than £10m, according to North and West Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.