Gary Verity, the head of Welcome to Yorkshire, believes that he has a duty and obligation to help grow women's cycling.
The organiser of the Tour de Yorkshire, and the man responsible for bringing the Tour de France to Britain in 2014, and the World Championships to Yorkshire in 2019, Verity was speaking just before the news broke that the 2018 women’s Tour de Yorkshire would double in size to two days.
"The significant announcement has been the doubling in size of the women's race. Instead of being a one-day race it will be a two-day women's stage race. That's really significant. We want to help grow women's cycling, and we're passionate about growing women's sport. As a father of a 14-year-old girl, I think that's something I'm duty-bound to do," Verity told Cyclingnews during the World Championships in Bergen, Norway.
The women's race was launched two years ago as a one-day event and ran in conjunction with the men's three-day event. Since then the event has stepped up another level. Television coverage has increased and the female peloton now races over the same roads as the men.
"We've improved things in a number of ways. We've increased the media coverage so that there's the same television coverage for both genders. They do the same parcours, and that happened for the first time in 2017. The biggest thing is perhaps that the prize money is four times bigger for the women's race. It's one of the most lucrative events in the women's calendar and we hope to carry that on in 2018."
At the same time as announcing the expansion of the women's race, Verity and his team confirmed that the men's race would move from three days to four. The race had lobbied for the move since the race's inaugural edition in 2015, and the additional day, Verity believes, gives them scope to attract a better field of world-class sprinters.
"We've been lobbying for quite some time to grow the race. We think that the race will benefit greatly by having another day for the men. It gives it balance with two flattish stages and two hilly stages. That will help attract different types of riders. Previously, we've had two hilly stages and one flat stage, so it's been difficult to attract the world's best sprinters for just one day," he said.
Now heading towards its fourth edition, the Tour de Yorkshire has held its own and made steps to solidify itself on the UCI calendar.
"We didn't know how popular it would be, whether the Tour de France was a one-off thing or it would be well received, but it was. There were great crowds and a great response, but we learnt a lot from that edition and took that into the second year," said Verity.
"We're now inundated with towns and cities that want to host the race. I've got 18 to pick from for next year, which is a nice problem to have, and we'll announce the starts and finishes on the 28th of September."
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