Bradley Wiggins and Marcel Kittel will be the stand-out names when the inaugural three-day edition of the Tour de Yorkshire gets under way in Bridlington on 1 May. The 16 eight-rider teams include WorldTour outfits Sky, Giant-Alpecin, BMC Racing, Lotto-Jumbo and IAM Cycling.
2012 Tour de France champion Wiggins is set to make his first appearance for his eponymous team at the new race, which starts just days after his transfer from Team Sky. His presence is sure to give a huge boost to the event, which Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity is already predicting will attract a million spectators.
“It’s fantastic to hear that the UCI have cleared the way for Bradley to ride,” Verity tells Cyclingnews. “We all know what a great sporting icon he is in the UK and we’re absolutely delighted that he’ll be here in Yorkshire with his new team.”
Verity also hailed Giant sprinter Kittel’s return to Yorkshire, where he won the opening stage of last year’s Tour de France in Harrogate. “Marcel is sure to have his eye on the opening two stages into Scarborough and York. I’d certainly have my money on him for that second one, which suits the sprinters down to the ground,” says Verity, adding: “But I don’t expect him to be in contention on the final stage, which has 3,085 metres of climbing.”
The presence of Cofidis and Europcar squads takes the number of teams returning to Yorkshire after last year’s Tour de France Grand Départ to seven. The two French outfits will be joined by another four Pro Continental teams: Cult Energy, MTN-Qhubeka, Rompoot Oranje and Topsport Vlaanderen.
“We’re chuffed, it’s a cracking line-up,” says Verity, who is also very pleased to see the race graced by a strong contingent of domestic squads. Four British Continental outfits – Madison-Genesis, NFTO, ONE Pro Cycling and WIGGINS – will be joined by a Great Britain team.
“We’re expecting massive crowds to turn out on all three stages. We’re already well aware of the excitement building at all of the roadshows Welcome to Yorkshire have been running across the county,” says Verity.
The Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive also reveals that Dame Sarah Storey will be leading the Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International team at the Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race, which takes place in York on 2 May.