Tour de Yorkshire: Venues announced for Britain's top cycling event
The host towns and cities for the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire have been unveiled.
Racing for the third edition - from Friday, April 28 to Sunday, April 30 - will begin or end each day in Bradford, Bridlington, Fox Valley (Sheffield), Harrogate, Scarborough or Tadcaster organisers Welcome to Yorkshire and the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) have confirmed.
A women’s race will be held on Saturday, April 29.
The second edition took place earlier this year when the number of roadside spectators increased from 1.5 million to two million and the race attracted 11.4 million global television viewers, up from six million in 2015.
The organisers say the event also boosted the local economy by £60m.
The organisers’ bid to add a fourth day fell short. Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity has been lobbying British Cycling for an extra day’s racing since 2015 - the year of the inaugural Tour - and earlier this month reiterated his desire to extend the 2017 edition in the wake of Yorkshire being awarded the 2019 road world championships by the UCI.
Sir Gary said: “In just two years the Tour de Yorkshire has become one of the biggest and best races on the professional cycling calendar.
“Riders are overwhelmed by the support they receive on the roadside and the racing is among the most exciting you will see all season.
“The third edition will continue that progression and the attention it receives will be greater than ever given that we have just succeeded in bringing the UCI Road World Championships to the county in 2019.
“The world’s best cyclists will be using the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire as a first dress rehearsal for that and we’re planning a course that will challenge and impress them in equal measure.
“I’m delighted the race will visit all four corners of the county and all six host towns will put on a brilliant show.”
Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France at the ASO said: “The Tour de Yorkshire has done itself proud in building a lasting and hugely successful legacy on the back of the 2014 Grand Départ.
“The race is a true success story and we are thrilled to be working in partnership with such a great team at Welcome to Yorkshire.
“We’re looking forward to another fantastic edition in 2017.”
Next year’s Tour will be also see a return of the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire Ride and give the chance for Tour Makers to volunteer on the race route and help welcome spectators at the event.
Scarborough hosted stage finishes in each of the first two editions of the Tour, and it was there that French rider Thomas Voeckler pipped Team Sky’s Nicolas Roche to overall victory earlier this year.
While Scarborough will make its third appearance, Bridlington has also hosted the race before - the first stage of the inaugural Tour in 2015 went between the two seaside towns via the North York Moors.
Harrogate’s inclusion hints at a dress rehearsal for 2019, as it is understood all of the races in the world championships will finish in the town - which hosted the finish of the opening stage of the 2014 Tour de France.
Fox Valley - in Stocksbridge on the outskirts of Sheffield - could also herald a return to roads used in 2014 as the Tour de France passed close by on stage two between York and Sheffield.
Bradford will make its debut as a host venue, as will Tadcaster, which the 2016 edition passed through on the opening stage from Beverley to Settle.
Many of the host towns announced today are also home to Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries, a direct legacy of the Tour de France and Tour de Yorkshire, which aim to offer every child in Yorkshire access to a bike.
So far 32 libraries have opened across the county and more than 4,000 bikes have been donated.
The full 2017 race route will be unveiled in December.