Next month’s Women’s Tour de Yorkshire will be the richest race in the world for female riders thanks to new sponsorship announced today from Leeds-based supermarket chain Asda – and among those vying for the winner’s prize of £15,000 will be world champion and local lass Lizzie Armitstead.
The one-day race on Saturday 30 April follows the same route as Stage 2 of the men’s race, which takes place on the same day, and starts in Armitstead’s home town of Otley, the peloton riding 135 kilometres to the finish in Doncaster.
Asda’s sponsorship of the race, which is jointly organised by Welcome to Yorkshire and Tour de France owners ASO with the backing of British Cycling, brings with it a total prize fund that tops £50,000.
Besides that first prize of £15,000 – to put that into perspective, that’s not far short of the roughly £15.750 Arnaud Demare got for winning Milan-San Remo on Saturday – there is prize money for the 20 top riders, including £10,000 for the runner-up and £5,000 for the third placed woman.
Armitstead, the form rider of 2016 with victories at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche and last weekend’s Trofeo Binda, said: “The Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s race will be my first race in the UK in my World Champions jersey and it’s an absolute dream to be starting in my home town.”
She will ride the race for Great Britain rather than her Boels-Dolmans trade team, and British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton said: "To have a British rider wearing the rainbow jersey supported by British riders in a British race is something I’ll be very proud to see.
"Lizzie has had an outstanding season so far and I know she’ll do the jersey justice in front of a home crowd.
"I’m also pleased to say that we will be entering a second women’s team into the event, Team Breeze, which will be an excellent development opportunity for the female endurance academy squad,” he added.
Andy Clarke, president and CEO of Asda, which is owned by the US-based retailer Walmart, said: “It’s a privilege to be supporting the Tour de Yorkshire women’s race and helping to raise the profile of women’s sports.
In 2014 Asda was the official partner of the Tour Makers for the Yorkshire Grand Départ, which was a resounding success.
“We’re incredibly proud of our Yorkshire roots and wanted to remain part of this exciting legacy that works to bring communities together in celebration of an amazing sport set against the backdrop of an unbeatable county.”
The race will also be shown live on both ITV4 and Eurosport, and Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity commented:
The series of announcements continued today with news that the Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire will be broadcast live, on ITV4 and Eurosport. >
Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Today is a hugely significant milestone for women’s racing.
"We’ve come good on our promise to expand the women’s race and rather than rest at bringing parity in terms of the men’s route and broadcast coverage, we’ve gone further to offer the world’s most lucrative prize fund.
“Together with our sponsors, we’re bringing women’s racing the respect it deserves and I can think of no better way to start our race in Otley than with our very own World Champion on the start line,” he added.
The race will begin in Otley at 8.30am and finish in Doncaster between three and a half and four hours later.
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.