'Talks underway' on bringing back Tour de Yorkshire in 2023, says tourism chief

Talks have already begun about the possibility of reviving the Tour de Yorkshire cycling race in 2023, tourism boss James Mason has said.

The race started in 2015 but has not been staged since 2019. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive said he is still hopeful the race can return with discussions being held with fellow event organiser, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO).

It comes despite the 2022 race being called off this week - making it three years in a row that the event has not taken place.

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“We are now in negotiations about 2023,” he said. “People are going to interpret this week’s announcement as the end but we are in discussions with ASO about 2023.”

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive James Mason at the launch of the 2020 Tour de Yorkshire route.

Mr Mason said he hoped the race can be brought back, with this week’s cancellation eventually being viewed as a “reset” for the event. While the 2020 and 2021 Tours were cancelled due to the pandemic, a failure to reach a financial agreement on how the event would be paid for was central to the 2022 cancellation.

Separate sources have told The Yorkshire Post that one factor in the cancellation decision was a recent request from ASO, which also organises the Tour de France, for more funding.

Councils due to stage the event had already been asked to effectively double their investment in the race by providing up to £100,000 extra to cover any potential shortfall in sponsorship on top of their original £100,000 hosting fee.

While six councils - North Yorkshire, Barnsley, Richmondshire, East Riding, Redcar & Cleveland and Craven - had agreed to provide the extra money if required, decisions on handing over the extra support had yet to be made by Leeds, Calderdale and Kirklees before the cancellation decision.

No public money for the event had been handed over to Welcome to Yorkshire as payments were only due when the 2022 race was confirmed.

Leader of Craven District Council Richard Foster said: “We are naturally disappointed that the Tour de Yorkshire will not be going ahead next year.

“We were really looking forward to showcasing our region and putting on a warm welcome for cyclists and spectators.

On the other hand knowing now the race has been cancelled means that no resources have been unnecessarily wasted in planning for the event. Although there is no TdY next year we look forward to working with Welcome to Yorkshire on other events to promote our fantastic region.”

It comes as emails obtained by The Yorkshire Post under Freedom of Information laws reveal the behind-the-scenes discussions about the event that were taking place earlier this year.

In discussions with local council leaders Mr Mason admitted the Tour had “not attracted the commercial sponsors that all parties would have hoped to achieve” in recent years and said it “has struggled to attract a headline sponsor”.

He said ASO had asked for a guarantee “to minimise the risk of financial loss to them” and while Welcome to Yorkshire has subsidised the event in recent years it was “not in a position to do so again”.

ASO was contacted for comment.

Focus on other upcoming events

A Welcome to Yorkshire spokesperson said the organisation is also concentrating on delivering other major events for the region.

“Despite this disappointing news we are now focussing on how we can support the tourism industry in Yorkshire in 2022 and on events that will go ahead.

“There has been a boom in tourism across our region this summer and we believe Welcome to Yorkshire has played a significant role in that.

“Our work with our local authorities and commercial partners to attract big events to Yorkshire continues.”

This month the agency is involved with Scarborough Cricket Festival and The Welcome to Yorkshire Ian Woosnam Senior Invitational at Ilkley Golf Club.

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