Next year’s Tour de Yorkshire has been cancelled, with the four0day race not now due to return until 2022 due to uncertainty caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which had already forced this year’s race to be scrapped.
The decision, announced by Welcome to Yorkshire and Tour de France owners ASO, who organise the event in partnership with British Cycling, raises further questions about the long-term future of the event following a cash crisis at the tourism agency last year.
> Tour de Yorkshire at risk as councils refuse emergency funds
Welcome to Yorkshire and the Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.) have confirmed that the 2021 Tour de Yorkshire will now be postponed until 2022. The difficult decision has been made after in-depth and constructive discussions with race organisers A.S.O., and also after detailed consultation with all the tourism agency’s local authority partners.
This sixth edition of the race had been due to take place between 30th April and 3rd May 2020, but the developing situation with COVID-19 meant the event simply became untenable.
Today’s announcement made no mention of the associated UCI Women’s WorldTour race, although clearly that will not go ahead either.
Welcome to Yorkshire’s Chief Executive James Mason said: “During these uncertain times Welcome to Yorkshire need to focus on the immediate needs of the industry without committing both financial and human resources towards any activity or event that we cannot be certain of.
“Cycling has become synonymous with Yorkshire and the Tour de Yorkshire has become a firm fixture on the world cycling calendar due to the reception the riders and teams receive in our county.
“Whilst it is very disappointing that we will be bereft of this wonderful race for another year the decision we have made it the right one and perhaps the only one we could make.
“The uncertainty in front of us meant it was impossible to plan or commit the resource that the race needs.”
He added: “This has been a mutual decision made by Welcome to Yorkshire and the ASO and we will all now look forward to putting all our energies into bringing the race back bigger and better than ever in 2022.”
Yann Le Moenner, director general of ASO, said: “We fully understand Welcome to Yorkshire's position and are totally associated with this joint decision.
“We have worked a lot together since the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014 to put the Tour de Yorkshire on the top of the international cycling calendar.
“This work is obviously not wasted and we will collectively do our best to re-launch the event in 2022 and give the chance to the world's best riders to be on the Yorkshire roads in front of one of the most enthusiastic audiences the cycling world has ever seen.”
The race, first held in 2015 to provide a legacy from the previous year’s Grand Depart of the Tour de France, attracts 2.6 million spectators to the roadside and is broadcast worldwide, generating an estimated £98 million for the local economy.
However, its cancellation for the second year in a row may cast a shadow over the future of the event, with Scarborough, a host town in every previous edition, and Harrogate, which staged the UCI Road Cycling World Championships last year, both ruling themselves out of welcoming the race back any time soon.
Even before the coronavirus crisis struck, a number of other local councils within Yorkshire expressed concern about the funds being spent on the race, with Welcome to Yorkshire last year having to secure a loan to enable staff to be paid.
The agency is however keen to build on Yorkshire’s reputation for cycling, and as we reported earlier this week it has announced a new strategy to attract domestic cycle tourists to the region.
> Welcome to Yorkshire aims to boost domestic cycle tourism as COVID-19 puts brakes on foreign visitors
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