The sixth staging of the event was due to go ahead in May of this year, but was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A tentative rescheduling to May 2021 was put in place, until yesterday when Welcome to Yorkshire announced that it would be postponed again until 2022.
The tourism agency, along with their organising partners Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) and British Cycling, want adequate time to prepare a safe event for the hundreds of thousands of spectators that traditionally line the route of the four-day race, and the ongoing pandemic means they cannot guarantee they will be able to do that in six months’ time.
Therefore, they plan to shelve the race for now and bring it back in May 2022, with what they hope will be the ‘biggest and best yet’.
It will also be the final race of a six-year contract signed between Welcome to Yorkshire and ASO.
That deal was struck in the Sir Gary Verity era, fresh from the county’s staging of the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France.
The man who succeeded Verity, James Mason, has struck a more reserved tone when discussing the Tour de Yorkshire as he grapples with financial constraints brought on by the fallout of his predecessor’s controversial departure, and an unprecedented global pandemic that has had damaging effects on both the sport and tourism sectors.
But Mason is confident there is a strong future for the Tour de Yorkshire.
“The conversations we’ve had with ASO and British Cycling is that this is what the UK, and specifically Yorkshire, will need come May, 2022,” said Mason.
“It’s not lip-service, we are determined to bring it back in 2022. The easiest thing would have been to cancel it. We haven’t, and I’m delighted the conversations have been positive about wanting the race to continue.
“We see a long-term future for the Tour de Yorkshire, as well as many other large-scale sporting, music and arts festivals.
“It’s disappointing to be postponing it, but the good news is that we’ve got a commitment from the three main parties that the race will be coming back to Yorkshire.
“This is the final ‘year’ of the contract, so we are focusing only on putting that race on and putting the best race on we possibly can.
“Between now and the culmination of that race, conversations will happen about an extension, but at this moment we’re only thinking of 2022 and putting that on safely, and then we can think about an extension further down the line.
“The Tour de Yorkshire has a cost to it, as do all major sporting events. We’ve got to agree whether its a cost worth paying. Is this a civic pride event that demonstrates the best of Yorkshire as a place to visit, live, work and study?
“That’s the opportunity here. The challenge is making the numbers add up, especially at Welcome to Yorkshire, but we do that in conjunction with our private and public sector partners.”
On the decision taken to postpone – one that has the agreement of the eight local authorities that were hosting starts and finishes – Mason added: “The uncertainty in front of us meant it was impossible to plan or commit the resource that the race needs.
“We want to run the race with Covid being completely gone so we can enjoy it with all the spectators, and right now there’s just too much uncertainty.
“So we thought we’d make this decision early. It is a sensible decision.”
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