Tourism bosses in Yorkshire are confident that this weekend’s national road race championships, based in Ampleforth, will provide a boost to their hopes of staging the Grand Départ of the 2016 Tour de France as they prepare to head to Belgium next weekend for the start of this year’s 99th edition of the race. Ahead of Sunday’s race, British Cycling has also released two videos previewing the national championships.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, which is co-ordinating the bid as well as sponsoring Sunday’s championships, said: “This is the perfect send off for us as we prepare to head to Liège.
“Hosting the prestigious Nationals on the eve of the Olympics will showcase to the world that Yorkshire is a race ready location for the Grand Départ and we will take that message with us to Belgium.
“We have the backing of some of British Cycling’s biggest names in Mark Cavendish and Ben Swift, as well as Olympic gold medallist Ed Clancy. They know what a great location Yorkshire is for Le Tour and that is the message we are taking to France this summer.
“Yorkshire is the spiritual home of British cycling and the county is ready to host the Tour de France,” he added.
Big crowds are expected for Sunday’s races, in which Yorkshire’s own Lizzie Armitstead defends her women’s title, while with Team Sky having enjoyed a monopoly of the men’s podium over the past two years, Rotherham’s Ben Swift is among those hoping to follow Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins into the national champion’s jersey.
Meanwhile, Welcome to Yorkshire says that the momentum behind the bid is building, with the public able to add their messages of support at www.yorkshire.com/backlebid and backing from figures in the world of sport including Brian Robinson, the first Briton to win a Tour de France stage, and Barry Hoban, who held the record for stage wins by a British rider until it was eclipsed by Mark Cavendish.
Local authorities throughout the region have also expressed their support, as have local politicians and Yorkshire’s business community.
The formal bid was submitted to Tour de France organisers ASO in March this year, and representatives from the Paris-based organisation visited Yorkshire earlier this year when they were shown some of the countryside that could provide the backdrop to the Grand Départ of the 2016 race.
Yorkshire, of course, faces competition from other regions and cities eager to host the opening days of the Tour in the coming years, not least from Scotland, with Edinburgh eager to host the Grand Départ of the 2017 race, and given the fact that both are for now at least part of the UK and that foreign starts tend to take place every two or three years, it’s highly unlikely both would succeed.
Meanwhile, British Cycling has produced two preview videos of what promises to be a great day’s racing – although clearly produced before Team Sky confirmed that neither Mark Cavendish nor Peter Kennaugh would be taking part.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.