ASO’s Christian Prudhomme has confirmed that the organisation will make another bid to have the Tour de Yorkshire extended from three days to four. Speaking to Cyclingnews at today’s launch of the 2016 race in Otley, Prudhomme said, "I really think it would be good for the race to have a fourth day given the extraordinary passion the people of Yorkshire have for cycling.
"This year’s first edition of the Tour de Yorkshire showed that the fervour and enthusiasm we saw at the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in 2014 has been sustained. It also demonstrated once again that the pride that the people of Yorkshire have for their region is magnificent. We will see how things go in 2016, but we hope that there will be a fourth stage very soon."
In September, British Cycling turned down ASO and its partner Welcome to Yorkshire’s request to add an extra day to the Tour de Yorkshire. In a statement, British Cycling explained: "All the signs are that the Tour de Yorkshire will be successful but more evidence is required before an informed judgement can be made."
Asked about that decision, Prudhomme commented: "British Cycling has done an enormous amount for the sport in this country. However, assuming we have another good edition of the Tour de Yorkshire in 2016, we will make another bid to have a fourth day added to the race in 2017."
On the subject of 2016’s second edition of the race, Prudhomme said that ASO and Welcome to Yorkshire had listened to feedback from riders and teams. As a result, they have put together a route that’s not as tough as this year’s, which was all but decided when the race split on the opening stage, won by Sky’s Lars-Petter Nordhaug, who went on to take the overall title.
"It’s a race that will not only show us new aspects of the region but will also build to a real crescendo with two opening stages that should suit the sprinters, and then a final one finishing in Scarborough that is going to be much tougher," said Prudhomme.
"I think it’s easy to imagine a scenario where we will have a different leader at the end of each stage. In terms of the general classification, that’s going to be up for grabs right until the very last moment."
Pressed by Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity on whether the Tour de France might make a return to the county, Prudhomme was coy at first, but then declared: "As far as the Tour de France goes, the question is not if but when the Tour will return to Yorkshire."
Verity revealed that they have taken feedback from fans at the first edition of the Tour de Yorkshire and announced two big changes for next year. "All three stages will be covered live on TV in their entirety," he said. "A lot of fans also told us they had missed the Tour de France’s publicity caravan. We won’t have the Tour’s 178-vehicle caravan, but I can promise a reduced version of it."
Verity also provided initial details of a higher-profile women’s race. "This will take place on the Otley-Doncaster stage using exactly the same roads as the men," he said, the start town having particular significance as it is the home of world road champion Lizzie Armitstead.
Verity added that they would unveil further details relating to prize money and participation for the women’s race in the new year. He also confirmed that the hugely popular Tour de Yorkshire sportive will return, taking place on 1 May with three routes starting and finishing in Scarborough.