Millions of reasons why the Tour de Yorkshire should be extended

Two of Yorkshire's leading cyclists have joined the growing clamour for the Tour de Yorkshire to be extended into a fourth day.

Tuesday, 2nd May 2017, 5:36 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:53 pm
Scott Thwaites of Dimension Data, Ian Stannard of Team Sky and Adam Blythe of Aqua Blue Sport at the press conference on the eve of the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire at the National Railway Museum. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

A record 2.2 million people are said to have lined the route over the three days of the annual race that crossed the county from Bridlington to Sheffield.

Sir Gary Verity, the chief executive of co-organisers Welcome to Yorkshire, has repeatedly lobbied the sport’s authorities for an extension as he believes adding a fourth day, and specifically a second day for the sprinters, would help lure box-office names like Mark Cavendish to the area.

Verity will file paperwork with the UCI to that effect later this month, but it is British Cycling which has so far resisted the calls for an extension.

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Serge Pauwels of Team Dimension Data won stage three and took first place overall at the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire into Fox Valley-Sheffield. (Picture: Chris Etchells)

An already sought-after date, plus the need for a lasting legacy outside of the race, have in the past been cited as reasons against expansion by the governing body.

But, fresh from another uplifting Tour experience, both Scott Thwaites, of this year’s winning team Dimension Data, and Adam Blythe, of Aqua Blue Sport, believe the time is ripe for an extension of their home race.

“I’d like to see a fourth day, the more the merrier,” said Burley-in-Wharfedale’s Thwaites. “It could even turn into a week-long stage race in the future.

“Three days is a nice way to run the race and it’s been successful so far, but I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t have a fourth day.

Serge Pauwels of Team Dimension Data won stage three and took first place overall at the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire into Fox Valley-Sheffield. (Picture: Chris Etchells)

“It would give more opportunities for stage wins and a chance to go to other parts of the region as well. You can see with the amount of people coming out to support the race how much of a boost it is for Yorkshire.”

Blythe’s reasons are more personal, given he is a sprinter and would relish the opportunity to prosper on a flatter stage.

“It would be good to move up to four days, if they could. It just depends on how hard they make it,” said Sheffield’s reigning British champion, who had top-10 finishes on the first two days.

“The first 150km on Sunday was just a bit of a parade because it was so hard, until the fireworks happened.

“Another flat stage would help; the pace would be faster, you could give more time bonuses along the way, which would make it a lot more exciting.”

Blythe, who hopes to ride in the three-week Vuelta a Espana later this summer, added: “There’s not many places in the world where you would come and get this much support on the roadside.”

And it wasn’t just local riders praising the standard of the race and welcome the riders received.

Team Sky’s Classics specialist Ian Stannard was bowled over by the reception.

“It doesn’t get any better,” said Stannard.

“It’s on a par with the Tour de France.

“It’s amazing to see in a home race, the public really getting behind it. It makes you proud when you’re riding your bike.”

Thwaites added: “It’s a great feeling to be in a massive race, I’m thankful to everyone who came and spurred me on.”