JUST 24 hours after part of the course disappeared under a blanket of snow, organisers of the second annual Tour de Yorkshire cycle race set out on a last-minute morale-raising tour today.
Thousands are once again expected to turn out for Friday’s start, despite the forecast of more wintry showers across the three-day event, a legacy of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart.
Last year’s inaugural running attracted 1.5 million roadside spectators and was claimed to have generated more than £50m for the region’s economy.
The race takes 18 teams of eight riders to all four corners of the county. Friday’s section begins in Beverley, before the peloton races to Tadcaster and on to Knaresborough. A series of climbs will take the riders past Brimham Rocks before a finish in the Dales town of Settle.
Stage Two on Saturday starts in Otley, home of the current women’s road World Champion Lizzie Armitstead. From there riders will travel south, on roads not raced before in either the Tour de France or Tour de Yorkshire, towards Conisbrough Castle and on to Doncaster.
The final stage on Sunday will begin in Middlesbrough, then into Herriot Country before tackling the steep Sutton Bank, over the North York Moors and down towards a Scarborough finale.
Today, Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of organisers Welcome to Yorkshire, and Christian Prudomme, director of the Tour de France body, Amaury Sport Organisation, visited Conisbrough Castle, where schoolchildren dressed in lettered T-shirts spelled out the name of the town.
Meanwhile, a giant artwork was unveiled on Sutton Bank in North Yorkshire. The 70m-high painting, adjacent to the cyclists’ route, can only be seen fully from the air, and will be picked up be TV helicopters broadcasting the event to a European audience of six million.
The artwork, almost as big as the neighbouring Kilburn White Horse, shows a horse on a penny farthing with a ram perched on its shoulders and a boar sitting aloft. It was created by five local artists from 1,000 litres of white pitch-marking paint,