Yorkshire plots return of Tour de France and Vuelta start

Verity questions still linger

The organisers of the Tour de Yorkshire are continuing their pursuit of another Tour de France Grand Départ in the next five to six years. Welcome to Yorkshire is also in talks with the Vuelta a España as they look to bring a start of the Spanish race to the British county.

"There are ongoing conversations to bring the Vuelta here and our belief is when the Tour de France comes back to Yorkshire, definitely not if," Peter Dodd, the commercial director of Welcome to Yorkshire, said at the end of Sunday’s four-day event in Leeds.

"It’s too early to put a date on it but I think in the next five or six years," he said in relation to both bids.

"Our ambition would be to host the Vuelta and for the Tour de France to follow shortly. Our agenda is to bring top class events, and obviously top class cycling events here."

The Tour de Yorkshire was launched on the back of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Départ. The British race has become a landmark event for high-level domestic teams and has regularly attracted world-class fields. In 2019 Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish both took part, with Chris Lawless taking the overall title. The organisers have also built a successful two-day women’s race and offered equal prize money between both genders. This year Marianne Vos won the women’s race.

However, recent negativity resulting from the controversial resignation of former chief executive Gary Verity has raised questions over the future of the races. An initial investigation concluded that Verity ‘made errors of judgement regarding his expenses’. Verity was a close friend of ASO’s Christian Prudhomme, with the Frenchman acting as Verity’s best man at his wedding a few years ago.

Dodd looked to calm any speculation over the future of the race, although he would not comment on the still ongoing investigations and reports that Verity had paid back £40,000 in expenses.

"We have a joint venture," Dodd said of the relationship with ASO. "We have a commitment for 2020 and 2021. We’ll probably announce, hopefully, a new contract that would take us further forward."

When asked whether the recent news surrounding the financial misuse of funds and Verity’s departure had led to local authorities backing away from the races, Dodd said: "Not at all. I’ve travelled around Yorkshire and various chief executives have said, ‘you do know that I’m down for a stage, a finish or a start?’ Literally, we’re over subscribed. We’ve got some committed for 2021 and probably one or two will go into 2022."

However, on Monday the Craven Herald reported that Skipton’s bid to host a stage in the 2020 race had been put on hold due to ‘assurances that the image is not permanently tarnished’.

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