Next May 2nd Tour de Yorkshire (2n-5th May) will start its fifth edition and the county is ready to host one the most popular races in United Kingdom. So far, cycling stars like Marcel Kittel, four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish, Connor Swift, Greg Van Avermaet and Serge Pauwels have confirmed they will be competing in the 2019 edition, as well as Lizze Deignan, who is coming back to high level after being mother in 2018, and current world time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten. They both will race along Yorkshire roads in Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race (3th-4th May).
Anyone who thought that the United Kingdom was not passionate about cycling must have realised the error of their ways after seeing the enthusiasm with which the historic county of Yorkshire hosted the Grand Départ of the 2014 Tour de France. The two stages that linked Leeds to Harrogate and York to Sheffield – along routes that traversed the greenest parts of England – brought more than two million spectators out onto the roads. The huge response caught the attention of the Amaury Sport Organisation, organiser of the Tour de France, which decided to launch the Tour de Yorkshire in 2015.
Tour de Yorkshire 2019 (infography by Enric Adell for VOLATA#18)
Despite its young life, this stage trial has already become the most popular sporting event in the UK. The reasons for this are partly to be found in the attractive, demanding route, with its fabulous landscapes of hills and dales; its narrow roads; its steep, sudden inclines; its rugged asphalt and unpredictable weather. The meticulously planned marketing campaign is another factor; as is, of course, the enthusiasm of a devoted public.
During its last edition, the British leg of the Tour was broadcast to 190 countries and viewed by around 12.5 million viewers. It also generated 98 million pounds for the area, making it one of the greatest assets for Welcome to Yorkshire, the county’s official tourism agency, launched in 2009 to revitalize the local tourist industry. Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire until March 2019, was responsible for orchestrating this complex operation involving public investment, a major sporting event and the tourism industry. The operation is particularly complex if we take into consideration that this is an area that lies outside the usual limits of the framework of the European cycling tradition.
The current Bristish National champion Connor Swift (Madison Genesis) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) will participate in next Tour de Yorkshire (©SWPix)
The popularity of the Tour de Yorkshire has ensured that the race has been given – in what will be its fifth edition (from 2 to 5 May) – a 2.HC rating by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). This has ensured the viability of a female equivalent of the test: the Asda Tour de Yorkshire (from 3 to 5 May), which grows by stages and kilometres each year. This year, the women’s event will offer the same prize money as the men’s, thus achieving desirable parity.
This article is a version from the one originally published in VOLATA#18. Visit our online shop!