Top teams lining up as Tour of Yorkshire builds on success of the Grand Depart

Ben Swift is set to star at the Tour of Yorkshire. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA.
Ben Swift is set to star at the Tour of Yorkshire. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA.
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Team Sky head a list of elite cycling squads set to to return to the county for the inaugural Tour of Yorkshire next May.

Twice winners of the Tour de France, they are understood to be keen to come back to the scene of this year’s glorious Grand Depart for the first three-day race in the Broad Acres over the 2015 May Day weekend.

Former Tour de France champion Chris Froome could be involved depending on his preparation for the Tour de France.

But Rotherham cycling ace Ben Swift is almost certain to be the designated sprinter on Sky’s eight-man roster for a race that runs from May 1-3.

And he could line up against his long-time friend and rival Adam Blythe, of Sheffield, who will race for Australian team Orica GreenEdge in 2015.

Orica, along with fellow world tour teams Giant-Alpecin and BMC Racing, have expressed an interest in returning to the White Rose county for next year’s race.

Giant – who were this season known as Giant-Shimano – were the most pro-active team in embracing Yorkshire’s role in the Tour de France this summer.

They were the first team to visit the county to reconnoitre the two stages from Leeds to Harrogate and York to Sheffield, and were rewarded with a victory for sprint superstar Marcel Kittel on day one. Their anticipated return will almost certainly bring Kittel back to Yorkshire.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the co-organisers of next year’s race, said: “Giant-Shimano, Team Sky, BMC and Orica GreenEdge – some of the biggest teams out there – have expressed an interest in sending a team.

“We’re also hoping to have a lot of British teams involved and plenty of local interest.

“We are very lucky to have the May Day weekend slot in the calendar. We are the weekend after a big classics race, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and the week before the Giro d’Italia.

“Hopefully, we might attract riders who aren’t in the Giro but need a few stage races under their belt in preparation for the Tour de France.”

The Tour of Yorkshire is a joint venture between Welcome to Yorkshire and Tour de France organisers the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO). The race will have a 2.1 UCI categorisation, putting it alongside established stage races like the Tour de Picardie and the Volta ao Algarve.

There will also be a women’s race on day two.

The six start and finish points have already been announced with Bridlington, Selby, Wakefield and Scarborough joining Tour de France host cities Leeds and York in staging the key moments. The exact route will be announced on January 21.

Teams will be made up of eight riders as opposed to six at the annual Tour of Britain.

That gives this county’s event an advantage, as the leading teams will be able to use the race as a clearer indicator of their preparations for the grand tours which have teams of nine riders.

Eight riders will ensure a greater team dynamic is required to win the Tour of Yorkshire.

As well as the big teams, there will also be a more local flavour to next year’s race with more British squads fleshing out the field.

The new Sir Bradley Wiggins team is expected to be announced in the coming days and it is understood they will race on the UCI Continental tour, which should see them contest the Tour de Yorkshire.

England cricketer Matt Prior has also launched a team that could feature.

ASO route director and former rider Thierry Gouvenou, whose two stages through Yorkshire in the Tour de France proved so compelling and decisive, will again be involved in the planning.

Verity added: “What we want is a mixture of stages.

“We want one for the sprinters but also one that tests the general classification contenders, a bit like we had in the Tour de France this year into Sheffield.”