YORKSHIRE is celebrating another spectacular sporting coup after Leeds was confirmed as the host for one of the stages of the prestigious ITU World Triathlon Series next summer.
Tens of thousands of fans are expected to turn out to see elite athletes including hometown heroes Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee in action at the event, which will be televised live around the globe.
Organisers hope the race – an exact date for which has yet to be announced – will repeat the huge success of the county’s hosting of last year’s Tour de France Grand Départ as well as the recent Tour de Yorkshire.
It will get under way in Roundhay Park with a 1,500-metre swim then finish in the heart of the city following a 40km-bike ride and a 10km-run.
Praise for the decision to bring the event to Yorkshire after a six-year residency in London’s Hyde Park has been led by the Brownlee brothers, who will relish the chance to compete on home turf so close to the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Olympic champion Alistair said: “It’s fantastic news that Leeds’s bid has been successful.
“I am sure the crowds will come out in force to see a major triathlon event in Leeds for the first time, and I’m sure it will be a brilliant event.”
Jonathan said: “Having an ITU World Triathlon Series event in Leeds is like a dream come true in many respects.
“To race at the highest level in the city where I grew up and have done all of my triathlon training is something that I’m already excited about.”
Bosses at the ITU, the sport’s world governing body, picked Leeds as a host city after it was put forward as a candidate for the role by British Triathlon.
The race will now be delivered by the ITU in conjunction with British Triathlon and Leeds City Council.
Mass participation events and themed cultural activities will be organised to tie in with the swimming, cycling and running action.
City council leader Coun Keith Wakefield said: “We are thrilled that Leeds will be hosting a round of the ITU World Triathlon Series next year.
“Following on from the incredible Tour de France Grand Départ and the great success of the recent Tour de Yorkshire, the love of sport and support for major world-class events by the people of Leeds and Yorkshire is clear and this will be another amazing event to showcase our city and county to the world.
“Seeing the world’s best triathletes in action in Roundhay Park and then racing into and around the city centre will be fantastic and the chance to watch the Brownlee brothers compete in their home city for free is sure to see huge crowds creating a tremendous atmosphere and another unmissable experience in Leeds.
“We thank the ITU and British Triathlon for supporting us and entrusting us with one of their marquee events, and we look forward to rewarding that faith with a wonderful event which everyone can get involved with as a volunteer, spectator or by taking part in the mass-participation elements or the range of exciting cultural activities which will be revealed in the months to come.”
An estimated 1.5 million people lined the streets of the county for the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race earlier this month.
The Tour de France Grand Départ, meanwhile, is said to have been worth £100m to the White Rose economy.
Major international cities that have hosted ITU World Triathlon Series stages this year include Abu Dhabi, Gold Coast, Cape Town and Yokohama.