Why Leeds can look forward to a sporting summer to remember

Leeds is on course to become one of the biggest sporting cities in the country this summer thanks to a programme of major events.

Since the overriding success of hosting the Tour de France's Grand Depart in 2014, Leeds has been gathering momentum as a major sporting destination, adding to the reputations of professional sports teams that include Leeds United and Leeds Rhinos.

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Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said: “The city's reputation has been growing since the Grand Depart in 2014 and suddenly everyone realised that Leeds is the perfect backdrop for these events.

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“It's great to see the city broadcast live internationally and it provides a brilliant showcase for what Leeds has to offer.”

One major event that has already come and gone this year is the Tour de Yorkshire, a road race that is quickly becoming one of the big events on the world cycling calendar.

And the World Triathlon series returns this weekend, bringing the world’s elite in the discipline as they try and beat home town heroes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee.

Coun Blake said: “Having the Brownlee brothers in the city is inspirational for the youngsters who come to watch.

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“To see two lads competing on the world stage in their home city is very special, especially when they're walking through the crowds before the race and chatting to people as normal lads.”

Another local sporting champion steps up on June 15 as boxer Josh Warrington takes on Barry Galahad at Leeds Arena for the IBF World Featherweight Championship.

Warrington has risen to fame far beyond Leeds after winning the title in 2018 at Elland Road, beating Lee Selby to claim the crown.

Attention then turns to Ilkley as some of tennis’ best players compete in the Ilkley Trophy.

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This year, three former Ilkley champions and nine of the world's top 100 ladies will descend on the club, including former Wimbledon semi-finalist and current world number 74 Magdalena Rybarikova.

Already under way is the Cricket World Cup, with Headingley - the shared home of Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Leeds Rhinos - lined up to host four matches in total.

The pick of the games is the opening match between England and Sri Lanka on June 21, before three other matches scheduled to take place by July 6.

More world-class cricket comes to Headingley on August 22 to 26 when the Ashes makes its return for the third test between England and Australia.

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Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “The redevelopment of Headingley Stadium has guaranteed that we'll have international cricket events this year and again in the near future.

“The stadium is back on the major international calendar with rugby league as we'll host matches at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

“We hope it attracts more big international rugby league and rugby union fixtures to the city in the near future.”

The city's summer of sport ends as it began, with cycling. The 2019 UCI Road Championships will come to the region from September 22 to 29, based mainly in Harrogate but passing through Leeds on several of the stages throughout the week.

Summer of 2019 could prove to be just what Leeds needs to break through onto the world stage and truly stake its claim on the international scene as a major host city.