WELCOME to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity is hoping the successful bid to bring the 2019 road world championships to the region will persuade British Cycling to give the Tour de Yorkshire an extra day.
The three-day race was launched in 2015 to provide a sporting legacy to Yorkshire’s hugely popular hosting of the 2014 Tour de France’s Grand Depart.
Verity asked the national governing body, which controls the racing calendar in this country, for a fourth day this year but was told it was too early to assess if the spring race was a success or not.
But at a press conference in Leeds, Verity said: “The Tour de Yorkshire is getting bigger every year and with a fourth day we could attract more teams, better riders and create a two-day women’s race over the weekend.
“And what better preparation for the 2019 Worlds could you get than three four-day Tours de Yorkshire between now and then?”
Yorkshire resisted a strong late challenge from Colombia to earn the right to stage the world championships for the first time in this country since 1982 and only the fourth time in the event’s 95-year history.
With 12 races over a nine-day programme, the event is backed by £27million of public money, including a £15million investment in cycling facilities around the country.
The “great news”, which was announced by the UCI at the venue of this year’s championships in Qatar, was greeted by Prime Minister Theresa May on Twitter as “another massive event for the county”.
With a government guarantee to underwrite the event’s costs with £9million of direct funding and £3million of National Lottery cash, and Yorkshire’s proven ability to stage races and get enormous crowds out to watch them, it was an easy decision for the UCI.
Speaking via a video link from this year’s championships in Doha, UCI president Brian Cookson said: “Let’s just put it this way, when we looked at all the bids, there was a clear leader.”
The courses for the two team trials, five individual time trials and five road races will be confirmed next year but Verity said they will touch “all four parts of the county, north, south, east and west...and you cannot come to Yorkshire without climbing a few hills”.
The programme will begin on a Saturday with an opening presentation in Leeds’ First Direct arena, before four days of time trials, followed by four days of road races. Press Association Sport understands they will all finish in Harrogate, with the starts spread out around the county.
It also believed the road race routes will be based on those used in the Grand Depart and Tour de Yorkshire, with the customary world championship finale of a series of circuits around the finish venue.
Verity is also keen to add a publicity caravan similar to the Tour de France’s, a series of cultural events, a volunteer programme and amateur “sportive” rides, including a children’s event on the final circuit.
And having made a good effort at painting Yorkshire yellow for the Tour de France in 2014, Verity made an early start on promoting the UCI’s iconic winner’s jersey by lighting up the First Direct Arena, Leeds’ Trinity shopping centre and Clifford’s Tower in York in rainbow stripes on Wednesday night.