The Tour de Yorkshire could become a four-day race in 2016 after the success of its first year and Prime Minister David Cameron supports the growth

Prime Minister David Cameron says he is impressed by plans to grow the Tour de Yorkshire, with preparations for the 2016 race already well underway.

The race, held on three days at the start of May, attracted over 1.5m people to the county as WorldTour and domestic teams battled it out over testing terrains.

But with plans afoot to extend the race to four days and increase the profile of the women’s race, Mr Cameron says the race is helping to support schemes to make cycling more accessible and safer.

“Like so many people around the UK I was delighted when Yorkshire hosted the Tour de France’s Grand Départ,” he said.

“The huge public response to that race was obviously an important building block for the success of this year’s inaugural Tour de Yorkshire. I was lucky to see first-hand the electric atmosphere both races generated. I am greatly impressed by the ambitious plans to grow next year’s Tour de Yorkshire.”

“The Government plans to double the number of journeys people are making by bike, by investing in schemes that make cycling simpler and improve safety. By bringing world class teams to Yorkshire and building the profile of the women’s race, the tour is supporting these aims.”

Team Sky’s Lars Petter Nordhaug took the overall title in 2015, having won the first stage and held off the likes of Samuel Sanchez (BMC) and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) in the next two.

Louise Mahé won the women’s race around York, but the race drew criticism from Lizzie Armitstead due to its short length. The UCI Women’s World Cup champion told Cycling Weekly that it wasn’t viable for her to travel and compete in the UK for an 80km circuit race.

“I’d like it to be taken seriously and be given a road race,” she said. “To go home after the European season to do an 80km criterium is not worth my while.

“It was a start and it was better than nothing, but those races are not something I’d ever attend.”

Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of race organiser Welcome to Yorkshire, hopes next year’s event, including the women’s race, will be bigger and better.

“I’m delighted that the Prime Minister is supporting our plans to grow next year’s Tour de Yorkshire,” he said. “The inaugural race built on the success of the Grand Départ’s visit to Yorkshire and we want next year’s Tour de Yorkshire to be even better.”