Plans to build on the back of this year’s Tour de France Grand Départ in Yorkshire are already in motion, according to a report in the Guardian today.
Tour organisers ASO are in discussions with Welcome2Yorkshire and British Cycling to set up a three-day stage race in the British county. "We want something to remain after the Grand Départ has happened," Tour de France directeur Christian Prudhomme told the British newspaper.
According to the article, talks were had about the possibility of moving the Critérium International to Yorkshire, but its March date prevented that from going any further. It is now believed that a race in mid-May is the current proposal, with the it visiting several areas around the county.
"We will look to spread the event around Yorkshire so that places that haven't received the Tour this year will get the benefit," said chief executive Gary Verity to the Guardian. "It will be the same UCI ranking as the Critérium International, and with ASO involved the quality of the riders and teams will be of the highest standard."
At 2.HC, it would be the highest-ranking stage race in Great Britain, with the Tour of Britain ranked as 2.1. Currently the plan is to have the event last three days and four stages with two, a time trial and road stage, forming the first day of racing.
Since Bradley Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France, ASO have been keen to get a footing in Britain. In December 2012, it was announced that Yorkshire had beaten Florence in the bid to hold to 2014 start. “Between March and August 2012, we said we would have to come to England as soon as possible after a British rider won the Tour. That's why we went for Yorkshire over Florence,” said Prudhomme.
“For Yorkshire to win ahead of Florence is no small thing. Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, a really exceptional place, and the Tour has never started from Italy. I could cite other cities but those were the two finalists – the success of the British cyclists tipped the balance."
ASO were one of the companies who bid for the Tour of Britain when it was put out to tender at the end of 2012, but lost out to SweetSpot who ran the race. This isn’t the first time they’ve created a race on the back of Grand Départ. The World Ports Classic came after the 2010 start in Rotterdam.
This year’s Tour de France will begin in Leeds on July 5, with a flat sprinters’ stage. There will be two further stages, beginning in York and Sheffield, before the race returns to French shores.