Tour de Yorkshire organisers hope to lure Tour de France champion Chris Froome to be the headline act of the third staging of the annual race in 2017.
Froome has so far missed the first two instalments of the race because it clashes with one of his favoured Tour warm-up events, the Tour de Romandie, which also runs over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.
The same applies again in 2017, when a peloton already enhanced by World Tour teams will again descend on the White Rose county for the third annual Tour de France legacy race.
But Froome, who has won the sport’s premier race three times now, hinted recently that he is eager to see if the Tour de Yorkshire can be squeezed into his schedule, as it is one of only two UCI-category stage races in which he can ride in front of his home crowd.
Asked recently about his schedule for 2017, Froome said: “Yorkshire, potentially, but I don’t know what that conflicts with. I’ll have to look at that with the team (Sky).”
If Froome has left the door slightly ajar then Sir Gary Verity is eager to burst through it to secure one of the sport’s biggest names.
“We’ve started talking and we’ll keep talking,” said Verity yesterday at the Impressions Gallery in Bradford where the routes for the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire were revealed.
“He’s said he’d like to come to Yorkshire and we’d like him to come to Yorkshire.”
Another cycling superstar who could debut in the race in 2017 is Mark Cavendish.
With his track commitments ahead of the Rio Olympics now firmly behind him, Cavendish’s focus will solely be on the road next year as he looks to add more Tour de France stage wins to his already historic tally.
And a return to Harrogate on day two of the 2017 race could be a poignant and persuasive factor.
Cavendish’s mother is from Harrogate, and the finish to stage two of next year’s Tour de Yorkshire will be a sprint up Parliament Square, just as it was two years ago on day one of the Tour de France, when the Manx Missile was sent tumbling to the tarmac in a race-ending crash.
Hoping for a different outcome this time, and for the chance to support Cavendish should he come back to Yorkshire, is Scott Thwaites, who will ride for the former world champion’s Dimension Data team in 2017.
Thwaites, from Burley-in-Wharfedale, has never ridden his home race, but in four years with World Tour team Boro-Argon has enhanced his reputation as a one-day Classics rider, which may suit the final day of the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire, a 194.5km stretch from Bradford to Fox Valley in Sheffield which comes with a sting in the tail; four categorised climbs in the final 22km.
“It’s a tough route but it’s got something for everyone, which is important,” said Thwaites, 26, of a race that begins with a 173km run from Bridlington to Scarborough and continues with a 122km sprinters’ stage from Tadcaster on day two.
“It’s got something for the sprinters and then the last stage is going to be a massive spectacle with those climbs.
“It’ll certainly be a strong man that wins it, and someone whose at the top of their game.
“With the nature of those sorts of courses where there’s lots of short climbs, there’s not much value in sitting back or getting in a big group because you’re all putting in the same power up the hill. So on the descents and the corners, the closer to the front you are the easier it will be.
“That final day will definitely be a race for the small groups or the individual riders. There’ll be no advantage for a group chasing behind, which will make it an interesting finish.”
Seven World Tour teams contested the race this year with organisers hoping that same number, at least, returns next year; though Verity is mindful of the need to strike a balance between the amount of elite and homegrown development squads are at the startline.
The women’s race will mirror the men’s stage on the Saturday, with another gender-busting £50,000 prize pool up for grabs.
“That amount of money has drawn a lot more of the bigger teams, and with that they bring more media attention, so it all helps the race grow,” said Grace Garner, the younger sister and team-mate of Lucy Garner, who finished second in the inaugural Women’s Tour de Yorkshire.