Blazing saddles! York to star in new Tour de Yorkshire cycle race

21 Jan 2015 @ 1.04 pm
| Entertainment, Sport
Flashback to July when the Tour de France peloton went through York. Photograph: Alex Whitehead/ Welcome to Yorkshire

Polish your saddles and talc up the Lycra shorts – York returns to the centre of the cycling universe in May.

After the triumph of hosting the Tour de France last year, the city was promised a role in the new Tour de Yorkshire which takes place on Friday, May 1, Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3, 2015.

Featuring some of the world’s fastest racing cyclists, the tour takes in two circuits of our city on the middle Saturday, organisers announced on Wednesday (January 21).

As it is due to be television in Britain and across Europe it is another chance for York and Yorkshire to shine.

The race in York

Stage 2 – Selby to York, 174km

We star in Stage 2 of the three day Tour de Yorkshire. Taking place on Saturday, May 2, this is described as “one for the sprinters”.

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The route map: click for full view

The race starts outside Selby Abbey. The route takes in much of the Wolds, and from Selby will take the peloton towards Market Weighton, through North Newbald and on to Beverley.

There they will turn north to Malton, then on to Stamford Bridge.

Then it’s on to a double circuit of York. Organisers are hoping for a dramatic finish in the city, after we laid on such incredible scenes during the 2014 Grand Départ.

As part of the legacy of the Tour de France to get more women cycling there will also be a dedicated women’s event on a circuit through York.

The other stages

Stage 1 – Bridlington to Scarborough, 174km

Stage 1 on Friday, May 1 is all about the coast and the North York Moors. From the start line in Bridlington the riders will head along the Flamborough Head Heritage Coast before riding into the North York Moors National Park, through Dalby Forest and towards Pickering.

They then take journey back to the coast at Whitby, and south to Robin Hood’s Bay with the race to the finish line on the seafront at Scarborough.

The last section of this stage will be particularly tough, especially the climb out of Robin Hood’s Bay, which is 1.5km long and has an average gradient of 10.3%.

Stage 3 – Wakefield to Leeds, 167km

The final day, Sunday, May 3 will see the peloton make a return to some of the roads raced in the 2014 Yorkshire Grand Départ of the Tour de France.

Only there’s a twist; starting in Wakefield, riders will travel south to Barnsley before heading to Holmfirth where they pick up the Grand Départ route in reverse.

They race to Ripponden before riding the iconic Cragg Vale – which in the Tour de France was the country’s longest continual climb and now becomes the longest continual descent.

The riders will then make their way to Hebden Bridge, Oxenhope and through the famous cobbled streets of Haworth.

A series of short, sharp climbs punctuate the entire route. After a steep climb at Goose Eye the riders will once again see Ilkley, with the famous climb up the Cow & Calf before a sprint point at Arthington and then what is expected to be a hugely popular finish line in Roundhay Park in Leeds.

We can all join in

Flashback to the York Racecourse start of the Grand Départ, July 2014. Photograph: Simon Wilkinson/ Welcome To Yorkshire
Tied into the event is a mass participation bike ride for us mere mortals to join.

Organised by Human Race, it will take place before the pro race on the morning of the final day, Sunday, May 3, and thousands are expected to take part.

“Before the Grand Départ had even finished people all across Yorkshire were asking when we can have more cycling! The Tour de Yorkshire will bring back many of the world’s top cycling teams and there will be an opportunity for ordinary people to ride the same roads on the same day in the sportive”

– Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire

Welcome to Yorkshire is also organising a month long Tour de Yorkshire Festival, “to showcase the country’s rich and diverse cultural offering”. The Yorkshire Festival, which accompanied the Tour de France Grand Départ, will be held in 2016.

The Tour de Yorkshire will be annual event, free to watch, and it is hoped the race will grow year on year to be one of the biggest events in the cycling calendar.

‘Simply spectacular’

Brian Robinson and Ben Swift at the Tour de Yorkshire launch. Photograph: City of York Council
The Tour de Yorkshire was launched in Bridlington by Team Sky pro rider Ben Swift and Brian Robinson, the first British man to win a stage of the Tour de France.

Organised by Welcome to Yorkshire and the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the event has support from British Cycling and local authorities throughout the county, including York council.

This is what those cycling mad Frenchmen said:

“The welcome we received in Yorkshire in July 2014 was simply spectacular and I am very much looking forward to returning there in May for the Tour de Yorkshire”

– Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France at ASO

“Yorkshire offers so much with its huge variety of landscapes. For this first edition we have three quite different stages, each with their own challenges and, seen as a whole, a very exciting addition to European racing.”

– Thierry Gouvenou, Tour de France’s sports director, who designed the race route