Tour de Yorkshire expands to four days

Women's race grows to two days as Verity hails 'an exciting new chapter'

After two years of trying, the Tour de Yorkshire will expand in 2018, with the men's race increasing from three days to four days and the women's event growing from a one-day race to a two-day stage race.

The Tour de Yorkshire was set up as a legacy of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Départ and, much like those couple of days, such big crowds turned out for the inaugural edition that the organisers immediately sought to add an extra day for the 2016 edition.

However, their attempts had until now been blocked by British Cycling, much to the frustration of Gary Verity, the head of Welcome to Yorkshire, which runs the race in collaboration with Tour de France organiser ASO.

This year, Britain's governing body did not stand in the way of the race's plans, and on Thursday the UCI confirmed the expanded races as part of the 2018 calendar.

"This is absolutely tremendous news and something we have long been working to achieve. We are grateful to British Cycling for supporting our application, and to the UCI for granting us this extension," said Verity. "Seeing the Tour de Yorkshire grow into what it is today is one of my team's very proudest achievements and none of this would have been possible if the people of Yorkshire - and Great Britain - hadn't taken the race to their hearts.

"This decision will help us attract even bigger names in the future and allow us to design a more varied and spectacular route. Our race is growing in stature all the time and the next two editions will hold even greater prestige given that Yorkshire is also hosting the UCI Road World Championships in 2019. Cycling is booming across the county and today marks an exciting new chapter for our race."

The deep banks of crowds that lined almost every kilometre of road were the defining image of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Départ, and Verity has claimed the level of support at the opening editions of the Tour de Yorkshire was a clear sign of appetite for a bigger event with a more creative route and a greater array of the world's best riders.

According to Welcome to Yorskhire, the 2017 edition was the best-supported yet, with 2.2 million fans lining the route and the race broadcast live in 180 countries.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said: "The Tour de Yorkshire is a true success story and the way the race has grown over the last four years has been incredible.

"The size and passion of the crowds has not just impressed me, but the cyclists too. They are always blown away by the reception they receive and are already looking forward to coming back in 2018. Extending the race to four days will allow us to visit more parts of the county and put on an even greater show."

The 2018 men's Tour de Yorkshire will take place from May 3-6. The women's race will take place from May 4-5. The start and finish locations are set to be revealed next Thursday, while the full route will be unveiled on December 5.

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