Gary Verity, the man who successfully brought the Tour de France start back to the United Kingdom in 2013, has confirmed that the Tour de Yorkshire is hoping to reach WorldTour status within the next three years.
The announcement comes as the organisers of the inaugural edition of the event, which takes place from May 1-3, confirmed that both Bradley Wiggins (WIGGINS) and Marcel Kittel (Giant Alpecin) would star in this year's race.
"We've signed a ten-year deal initially [with Tour de France organisers ASO] but the intention is that as long as cycling is popular and people want to watch cycling, we want to have this race in Yorkshire," Verity told Cyclingnews.
"WorldTour, that's our ambition. We'd like to get that done over the next three years and that's a realistic goal and one that's fitting for cycling in the United Kingdom and in Yorkshire."
This year will see Bradley Wiggins make his debut for his new WIGGINS squad, having stepped out of the limelight of Team Sky after Paris-Roubaix. The British rider is unlikely to fight for top honours in the Tour of Yorkshire but for Verity the rider represents top billing due to his public appeal, and the fact that he missed out on riding the Tour de France last year.
"I'm of course really pleased and I think we've got a stellar line-up. A few people said when we announced the race that it wouldn't be a proper event but we've got 144 in the peloton and we're 20 percent bigger than the Tour of Britain. We've got some great teams and great riders," he said.
"Most people will remember all the stuff that was on the roads last year in Yorkshire, with 'where's Wiggo' and a lot of people were disappointed that he wasn't in the Team Sky line-up for the Tour. Now they'll get a chance to see him and they'll come out to salute a great British sporting champion.
"I think it makes up for last year. If you want to see history, then this will be one of the last chances to see him race on British roads. It's a piece of history and he’s an icon."
Marcel Kittel, assuming he returns to full health, also returns to the United Kingdom, having won the opening stage of last year's Tour de France, donning the maillot jaune in the process. He will be joined by a strong Giant-Alpecin team.
Team Sky includes Ben Swift, while BMC Racing have included former Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez in their roster.
"The other standout is that we have Marcel Kittel coming back. He won the first stage of the Tour last year, and won four stages. He's got to be one of the favourites for two stages in this race and I think a lot of people will turn out to support him too.
"We would have wanted to have this race making its debut last year, just before the Tour as a curtain raiser but we couldn't do that. However we wanted a high calibre race and the rider list to match for this year, and we’re chuffed about that."