By David de Winter – Sports Editor
@davidjdewinter [email protected]_Sport
The UCI has announced that a major new international race held in the UK is joining the world cycling calendar. Provisionally entitled the ‘Tour de Yorkshire,’ the race will be held on the 1st-3rd of May 2015. The format will include a three stage elite event with the possibility of holding a women’s race and also a mass participation event too.
This is a great coup for Yorkshire, the Yorkshire tourist board, British Cycling, and all UK cycling lovers. Following the enormously successful and popular Tour de France 2014 Grand départ, the UCI has sensibly tapped into the feverish obsession the British public currently has with cycling. The plan (not yet finalised) is to visit some of those famous locations from the 2014 TDF whilst also exploring other parts of Yorkshire that weren’t included in the Grand depart.
Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Gary Verity said “This new official international cycle race heralds the start of a world-class event for Yorkshire that we want to see grow over the coming years to become known the world over. We already have a huge amount of interest thanks to the Yorkshire Grand Départ, which captured the imagination of millions of people globally – and this race will be a fitting legacy. We’re confident that come May, we’ll deliver something very special.”
This will hopefully be another opportunity for fans to get up close and personal to the likes of Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali, Giro d’Italia holder Nairo Quintana and our very own Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish. Who could forget those amazing scenes in the summer when crowds 10 deep lined the roads all the way round the course? It made for a scintillating atmosphere, the likes of which many cyclists remarked they had never previously experienced.
Indeed, Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, stated: “We knew Yorkshire was gorgeous and there was a real passion for the Tour, but now we know after the unforgettable Grand Départ that people love the sport of cycling. It is now time to work together to bring a new race that will see some amazing riders and passionate crowds once again line the streets.”
However it is not all about seeing the stars whizzing up and down the Yorkshire hills. “To secure the approval of the UCI is terrific news and building on the huge success of the Grand Départ here in Yorkshire, we can drive up participation and work towards more people cycling more often,” Bob Howden, President of British Cycling, said. “A new world-class race helps underline a commitment to cycling in all its forms.”
The knock-on effect from those heady days in July is clear. A new report from British Cycling has confirmed that 2014 saw a 64% increase in participation across all its recreational programmes. They are now working with TFL to promote safe cycling across the city by offering guided cycle rides for cyclists looking to gain confidence on London’s road, an initiative that saw a 3-fold rise in participants in 2014.
Another world-class race in Great Britain can only be a positive thing for cycling, and what better place to hold it than the beautiful hills of Yorkshire. It will be a rare opportunity to see some of the nation’s best racers in their own backyard. Who knows, it might even inspire the next generation of British cyclists.