It was pointed out during today’s event in Harrogate marking 100 days until the Tour de France's Grand Départ begins in Leeds on 5 July, that Welcome To Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity always pulls some kind of rabbit out of his hat at such moments, and Verity didn’t disappoint a packed auditorium at the Harrogate Conference Centre.
At the end of a slick and uplifting 90-minute presentation of all that Yorkshire has in store for visitors both leading up to the Grand Départ and beyond, Verity revealed that ASO are on the verge of signing a deal to organise a three-day race in the county from 2015 to continue the region's Tour de France legacy.
"We are working closely with ASO and British Cycling to continue the lasting legacy of Yorkshire’s Grand Départ by delivering this new race for Yorkshire from 2015, which will rank as a major new addition to the global cycling calendar," said Verity, as ASO’s deputy director of cycling, Pierre-Yves Thouault looked on from the auditorium’s front row.
"It has the potential to take in wider parts of the county and we look forward to announcing more details in due course."
Verity has repeatedly stressed the need to build on the momentum and enthusiasm generated by the Tour de France’s visit, and all kinds of grass roots cycling schemes are already under way in Yorkshire.
The three-day race adds an elite level event to those schemes. As The Guardian revealed in January, it will take place in May and have a 2.HC rating. What it doesn’t have as yet is a name. Some have suggested that name might be the Criterium International since the contract ASO have with current hosts Corsica runs out after this coming weekend’s fifth edition on the French island. Certainly, the Yorkshire event will have a similar format to that 2.HC race, with a road stage and time trial taking place on the opening day, followed by two longer road stages on the next two.
Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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