Gary Verity is refusing to give up hope that the Tour de Yorkshire will expand to four days in 2016 – despite a three-day route being announced on Friday – and is ready to rely on "bloody mindedness" to make it so.
In light of the roaring success of the inaugural of the edition of the race back in May – watched on the roadside by 1.5 million people – the Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive put in a request for an extra stage, which was denied by British Cycling last month.
On Friday the start and finish towns for the 2016 edition were unveiled; Doncaster, Scarborough, Middlesbrough, Beverley, Otley and Settle were on list of six that would form a three-day race from Friday April 29 to Sunday May 1, though it is not yet clear how exactly these pieces of the jigsaw would fit together.
However, Verity has a fourth stage planned and in the pipeline, ready and waiting to go if he can force those at British Cycling to bend to his will. He has until the end of November to do so, with the full route needing to be finalised and announced in early December.
"We've got a route for three days and we've got a route for four days. Whichever it is we end up with we're ready and waiting to go with that," Verity told Cyclingnews.
"We're still lobbying for four days. We've been dealing with the top brass at British Cycling. We still think that four days is eminently doable and we hope that British Cycling could find a way to make that possible. The UCI are in favour of it, a lot of the riders are in favour if it, the Prime Minister is in favour of it, the Culture Secretary is in favour of it, so why not?"
British Cycling turned down the race's requests for expansion almost three weeks ago, saying it was too early to reframe what had been set in place as part of a four-year agreement. The race organisation, on the other hand, insist there is a voracious appetite for an expanded race – from riders and broadcasters to prospective host towns and the general Yorkshire public – and they believe that this momentum should be harnessed sooner rather than later.
Verity, despite being keen to point out that he holds British Cycling in high regard, is struggling to understand where the federation is coming from on this issue, describing their reasoning as "crazy" before commenting that he thought that "more could be done to increase the amount of racing in the UK."
"The agreement is a dynamic one. We need to continue to move forward. It's about progress. If we all stuck with everything there'd be no improvements anywhere – in dentistry, road travel, air travel, anything. You could say the original agreement was for a horse and cart, so why don't we stick with that? It's a crazy argument."
Verity is determined to continue fighting for his cause and, despite being unwilling to reveal any finer details of the negotiation process, is putting faith in the 'bloody mindedness' of his organisation over the next couple of months. He has drawn support from the UK government and the UCI, not to mention the "tens of thousands" of people that have signed a petition on the Tour de Yorkshire website.
"We'll keep on saying 'we think this race should be a four day race'. Because we do. You can't sell out on your principles," Verity defiantly told Cyclingnews.
"People told us we wouldn't get the Tour de France to start in Yorkshire and told us we were wasting our time with that, and we just kept going. We have a sort of bloody mindedness and a determination that means that you've got to keep going because it'd be hypocritical not to do so. We must make sure we do get to four days – it's the right thing."
Having four stages would alter the complexion of the race considerably. The three-day plan for 2016 would be the same as this year in that it would comprise an out-and-out sprint stage and two hillier stages, but four stages would make for an extra flat day, in turn attracting a wider range of sprint talent.
Whatever shape the race takes, there will be a one-day women's race taking place ahead of one of the men's stages, which is set to be shorter in length.
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