A major new international cycle race for Yorkshire could join the pro calendar from 2015, Tour de France chiefs have announced.
Tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire, British Cycling and Tour de France organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) made public that they are on the verge of signing an agreement to deliver a three-day elite race at today’s Y14 conference in Harrogate.
The annual conference, which this year marks 100 days until Le Tour sets off from Leeds’ Headrow on July 5, also saw the world exclusive performance of the official anthem of Yorkshire’s Grand Depart ‘The Road’ performed by York-based singer-songwriter Alistair Griffin.
A major marketing campaign in the capital was also launched. It will see new Welcome to Yorkshire Grand Depart adverts screened in around 3,000 London taxis in April and ticket barriers at King’s Cross Station adorned with Yorkshire Grand Depart branding this spring.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “We are working closely with the ASO and British Cycling to continue the lasting legacy of Yorkshire’s Grand Depart by delivering this new race for Yorkshire from 2015, which will rank as a major new addition to the global cycling calendar.
“It has the potential to take in wider parts of the county and we look forward to announcing more details in due course.”
Y14 has also heralded the start of Yorkshire Festival 2014 – the £2m cultural celebration which will see 47 art commissions celebrate the cycling spirit of an unforgettable Tour de France.
Mr Verity added: “This is a momentous day for our county – we are just 100 days away from making history and a moment the world will never forget.
“Yorkshire will never have a better chance to shine on the global stage, and Welcome to Yorkshire will be doing everything in our power to maximise the positive impact of this opportunity that, alongside our partners, we have worked so hard to bring about.”
The event at Harrogate International Centre, which attracted around 2,000 people, also saw the official launch of the Grand Départ legacy project, Cycle Yorkshire, which includes a 10-year plan to make Yorkshire the cycling heartland of Europe.
The stage also saw legendary Yorkshire cyclist and the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour, Brian Robinson, reunited with one of the world’s most famous cyclists Bernard Hinault, a five-time winner of the Tour de France.
See tomorrow’s newspaper for more information.