Yorkshire Tea bags top billing as excitement brews for cycling championships

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It is a drink best sipped from a china cup, not a plastic bottle clipped to the frame of a racing bike.

But when in September the nine-day cycling World Road Championships come to the Ridings, Yorkshire Tea will have imbued them with a distinctly regional flavour.

The nation’s second most popular brew, whose makers, Taylors of Harrogate, are based within sight of the finish line, will be unveiled today as a sponsor of the biggest event in the cycling calendar.

It marks a change of gear for the brand, which had for six years lent its name to the national team in the more sedate game of cricket.

Taylors had announced last September that it was taking a break from its relationship with the England and Wales Cricket Board, to concentrate on supporting cricketing charities in Britain and Rwanda, from where it sources much of its tea.

But it is now associating itself with a different sport, in what it sees as a major new partnership.

It will be “exclusive tea supplier” to the Championships and will sponsor the band of 2,000 volunteers being recruited to lay on a traditional Yorkshire welcome for the riders and spectators.

The deal, said Ben Newbury, Taylors’ senior brand manager, would “put the region on the world stage and see cycling fans visit our home town of Harrogate from across the globe”.

He added: “The volunteers will play a central part in making the week a proper success and we couldn’t be prouder to be supporting them.

“We’ll be keeping them well fuelled with tea, kitting them all out in snazzy gear and bringing them together throughout the build-up and the week itself.”

The volunteers, who will include race marshals and interpreters to riders and officials from 80 nations, are members of the public who are being corralled from across the county by the tourism agency Welcome To Yorkshire, which brought the race to the region following the success of the Tour de France in 2014.

David Lappartient, the president of the race organiser, Union Cycliste Internationale, said the volunteers were a key element of the championships.

“Their passion and energy contribute to the success of our events,” he said. “They also become ambassadors of our sport in the host city or region thanks to their know-how in organising major events or simply because they cycle on a daily basis.”

He added: “The Yorkshire population’s enthusiasm for cycling is no secret. The presence of an important player in the local economy at their side will provide an additional boost to the popular success of this event which promises to be exceptional.”

Sir Gary Verity, Welcome To Yorkshire’s chief executive, said he was “thrilled” that “an iconic Yorkshire brand” would partner the volunteers, and encouraged more to come forward.

He said: “Our volunteers play such a vital role in delivering our major cycling events. I have no doubt that Yorkshire Tea will make every volunteer feel part of something very special.”

The Championships get under way on September 21 and take in much of North, West and South Yorkshire, with a para-cycling event for disabled riders – the first to be staged as part of the annual event – going as far east as Beverley.

Harrogate is the hub for all the races across the nine days, with the starting lines scattered. Leeds will stage the start of one race re-tracing the route of the Tour de France in Yorkshire.