CYCLING FANS in Europe will be targeted by a new Government-backed marketing campaign to raise the profile of the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race overseas.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced £300,000 of Government cash will be used by Welcome to Yorkshire, working with VisitBritain, to lure visitors to the region when the first Tour de Yorkshire takes place in May.
A further £500,000 will support the creation of cycling circuits across Yorkshire as the region continues to capitalise on the success of last year’s hosting of the Tour de France.
The announcement of Government support for the Tour de Yorkshire, and George Osborne’s recent commitment to making Yorkshire the capital of cycling in the UK, is in stark contrast to the wrangling with Whitehall over the hosting of the Tour de France.
Mr Clegg told The Yorkshire Post that the economic impact of the Tour de France showed that Government backing could unlock wider benefits.
“One of the reasons I banged the table as hard as I did to make sure the Government provided some support to the Tour de France, despite some reluctance within Government at the time to do so, is because I think it pays off.
“The Conservatives have had a latter-day conversion to many of things they were objecting to originally.”
The Sheffield Hallam MP added: “As the most senior member of the Government from Yorkshire of course I’m delighted that people are now, across parties, as enthusiastic as I believe they always should have been.”
The Tour de Yorkshire will take place on the last weekend before polling day when Mr Clegg and his political colleagues are likely to be scrapping for votes.
He said: “One of the many reasons the Tour de Yorkshire will be so popular with the public is they will so utterly fed up with politics and politicians by that stage that the country will flee to escape the clutches of us campaigning politicians and watch the cycling instead.”
The Tour de Yorkshire is being run by Welcome to Yorkshire in partnership with Tour de France organisers Amaury Sport Organisation.
While not on the same scale as the Tour de France, the event is set to be the most important cycle race in the UK this year and is expected to attract leading professional riders and teams as well as thousands of cycling fans and global media interest.
Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity said: “Lots of people in Yorkshire know the race is happening. Lots of people in the UK know it’s happening. Not many people in Belgium, Holland and France know the race is happening yet.
“This will enable us to raise the profile and get a lot of visitors over from Belgium, Holland and France, not just for the race but for the rest of this year.”
Asked about the apparent change of tone from Whitehall, Mr Verity said: “There seems to be, whether it’s because of the success of the Tour de France, that people get it now and there seems to be a real enthusiasm and passion.
“Cycling in general, partly down to the success of British cycling, partly down to the success of the Grand Depart when it was in Yorkshire last year, all those things mean we have reached a perfect storm in terms of support and long may that continue.”
The inaugural Tour de Yorkshire will focus on the coast, setting off from Bridlington on Friday, May 1 with the first stage finishing in Scarborough.
The second day will take the cyclists from Selby to York via Beverley.
The final day will begin in Wakefield and will take in two sprints and six climbs through Holmfirth, Rippondale, Hebden Bridge and Addingham before finishing at Roundhay Park, in Leeds.