Yorkshire's burgeoning status as one of Europe's leading cycling destinations has received another boost with the announcement by the UK government that it is to invest £800,000 to support the Tour de Yorkshire and the construction of new cycling facilities.
Speaking at the Amici & Bici bike café in Sheffield, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg revealed that £300,000 will be used by Welcome to Yorkshire to promote the first edition of ASO's Tour de Yorkshire, which takes place on 1-3 May. The rest of the money will be used to improve existing cycling facilities and to contribute towards the construction of new cycle circuits across the county.
"Yorkshire wore the yellow jersey with pride last year, with an incredible staging of the Tour de France Grand Départ. The Tour de Yorkshire this summer is the perfect opportunity to build on this lasting legacy, attracting visitors again, which in turn will boost business in the region,” said Clegg.
"This funding will ensure the Tour de Yorkshire gets international attention on a grand scale, whilst investment for new facilities will help the sport grow so that everyone can enjoy cycling.”
Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, who was the driving force behind Yorkshire's hugely successful Grand Départ last summer, commented: "It is our ambition for the Tour de Yorkshire to be one of the best three-day cycle races in the world so this funding to help us promote the event internationally is very welcome. Last summer people saw the glorious landscape of Yorkshire as a perfect setting for a world class event, and they'll see that again this May – and hopefully for many years to come."
Yorkshire's cyclists will arguably be more excited by the half a million pound investment in a number of new cycling circuits planned across the county. Each of these circuits is expected to welcome 10,000 competitive and recreational cyclists who want to take part in the sport away from traffic, with access to the best support facilities.
This investment, which will be spread over two years between 2015 and 2017, will be dependent on planning permission and local partner funding being secured to enable construction of these circuits.
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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).