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Welcome to Yorkshire still has high hopes of Tour de France return

Beleaguered agency also remains in talks to bring opening stages of Vuelta to the region

Welcome to Yorkshire says it remains very hopeful of bringing the Grand Depart of the Tour de France back to the region, as well as hosting the opening days of the Vuelta a Espana.

The Tour de France spent the first two days of its 101st edition in Yorkshire in 2014, and has built on that legacy with the Tour de Yorkshire, launched the following year.

September’s UCI Road Cycling World Championships provoked a backlash from many businesses and local residents in Harrogate, which hosted the finish of all races in the week-long event.

Both Harrogate and Scarborough, which has featured in every edition of the Tour de Yorkshire to date, declined to apply to be host towns in next year’s race.

> Harrogate says 'no thanks' to Tour de Yorkshire after Worlds experience

However, Welcome to Yorkshire’s commercial director, Peter Dodd, told the Yorkshire Post as the host towns for the 2015 race were unveiled on Friday that there was still plenty of appetite to bring major cycling events to the region.

The agency has been in discussions for two years now to bring back the Tour de France, owned like the Vuelta by ASO, which also co-organises the Tour de Yorkshire with Welcome to Yorkshire and British Cycling.

“We are still on a course for that big prize,” Dodd said. “The Tour de France has been here once, when will the second time be?

“We’re still having the conversations and it is still very much a case of when, not if.”

He continued: “We are still talking to [race director] Javier Guillen about the Vuelta.

“We were twice over-subscribed for locations for the Tour de Yorkshire for 2020 and beyond, so it’s how you fit these things into the calendar.

“But we’re looking five years, six years, but definitely the conversations are there.”

Next year’s Tour de France starts in Nice, while the 2021 edition begins in Copenhagen. It’s likely that the following year, the race would begin on home soil again, meaning that 2023 is the earliest realistic opportunity for it to return to Yorkshire.

The Vuelta starts abroad less frequently than the Tour de France – next year, it begins in Utrecht, only the fourth foreign start in the race’s history, although now that organisers Unipublic wholly owns the race, foreign starts may become more commonplace for the Spanish Grand Tour.

Dodd’s confidence over bringing the races to the region comes towards the end of what has at times been a challenging year for Welcome to Yorkshire.

CEO Sir Gary Verity resigned on grounds of ill health and faces allegations over expense claims and bullying, while the agency was said to be close to collapse in September and was reportedly only able to pay staff after exercising an option to take out a £500,000 loan.

> Welcome to Yorkshire reportedly near collapse before World Championships due to cash crisis

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.