Vuelta a Espana now on Yorkshire's radar as county's status as cycling capital picks up speed

YORKSHIRE cycling chiefs are exploring the possibility of bringing the Vuelta a Espana to the region.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN: Magnus Cort Nielsen crosses the finish line at the Cow and Calf in front of thousands of fans to win the Barnsley-Ilkley stage two and take the overall leaders jersey in the Tour de Yorkshire. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Discussions have begun between Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity and La Vuelta race director Javier Guillén about hosting the race’s opening stages in the White Rose county as early as 2021.

La Vuelta – or Tour of Spain – is one of three grand tours alongside the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia and would build on the ongoing big-event legacy of the region’s staging of the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France.

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Guillén was a guest of Welcome to Yorkshire for Thursday’s opening stage of the fourth annual Tour de Yorkshire, and Verity is confident a strong impression was made.

“We want to bring the Vuelta here and they’re happy to have that conversation,” said Verity, who was instrumental in securing the 2019 UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire and remains confident the Tour de France will return in the next few years.

“We would like to get the Vuelta because it would be a marvellous thing for the county and would continue building on the legacy of the 2014 Tour de France. If you think about the bigger picture, we’d then be the only place in the world (apart from Spain and France) that’s had the world championships, the start of the Tour de France and the Vuelta.

“If we want to position ourselves as the European capital of cycling, then my way of defining that is you’d have the start of the three grand tours here regularly, you’d have your own first-class professional bike race both for men and women which we have; you’d have an increase in amateur participation which we’re getting and the cycling infrastructure would be growing.”

La Vuelta lacks the global profile of the Tour de France, in part because it comes at the end of the cycling summer and because organisers have been reluctant in the past to take it away from Spanish territories.

However, La Vuelta is run by Tour de France organisers Amaury Sports Organisation, who Verity and cycling chiefs in Yorkshire have a close relationship with due to the last four years of staging large-scale cycling events together.

Tour de Yorkshire: Page 9