The confirmation that the Tour de Yorkshire, a new stage race run organised by Tour de France owner ASO alongside Welcome to Yorkshire, will take place in 2015 hit the headlines last week.
But aside from the typical vagaries found in advance notice press releases, what is actually known about Britain’s newest UCI-ranked stage race? CW takes a look.
Taking place between May 1-3, Welcome to Yorkshire’s press-release states that the Tour will include “three full stages take place over the three days”. In other words, do not expect a prologue, a time trial or team time trial of any sort. Sorry, Brad – you can’t wear your stripey jersey here.
York is likely to be where the race HQ is based, and where the teams stay. Given its position in the county, it will likely only be a short drive away from the likely stage start and finish locations. Two hotels that welcomed teams for this year’s Tour in and around York are already sold out on the dates of the race.
When the race was first mentioned, one of Welcome to Yorkshire’s big selling points was that it would visit those places the Tour didn’t. However, last week’s press release said the race plans to “potentially include parts of the county that the momentous Yorkshire Grand Départ didn’t visit,” suggesting some back-tracking.
CW does not expect to see Leeds or Sheffield host a start and finish respectively, as per the Tour, but it is believed that ASO want to add to “the legend” of parts of the routes used during the Grand Départ, in particular some of the climbs used in this year’s Tour (think about the status Box Hill now has, because of the London 2012 road races, despite its comparative ease). Given the crowd size on Holme Moss and Buttertubs Pass (above), these are likely destinations.
The Hull Daily Mail has reported that the city could host the start of the race, with stage one possibly finishing along the seafront on Royal Albert Drive in Scarborough. Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme wanted the Grand Départ to visit the latter, but it was not logistically possible. In January last year, he said: “We went to Scarborough in spring. It’s gorgeous, really gorgeous, and we tried to have a stage there. But the Tour is huge. It’s really too big. It was impossible for us to find a place.”
Thierry Gouvenou, ASO’s technical director, recently tweeted a picture from the top of Rosedale Chimney Bank in the North York Moors. The climb is labelled as the steepest public road in England – it has an average gradient of 13 per cent, and a maximum of 33. Gouvenou will have almost certainly been recceing potential stage routes and climbs and his visit to Yorkshire last week.
In addition to the Moors, it would not be a surprise to see the Wolds also featured in the race, and Bradford is oft-mentioned in discussions regarding this legacy event, particularly as stages one and two of the Tour failed to visit the city.
TEAMS AND RIDERS
The race will be run as a UCI 2.1-ranked event, the same as races like the Tour of Algarve and the Tour of the Mediterranean. The Tour of Britain had this status until this year’s edition. This means that the average stage distance for the race is limited to 180km, and can have a maximum distance of 240km. WorldTour teams can comprise up to 50 per cent of the field size, while teams from the second and third tiers (ProContinental and Continental level), as well as national teams can compete. This should result in a number of British teams – the likes of Rapha Condor-JLT and Madison-Genesis – being invited to take part.
Sitting between the Tour of Romandy and the Giro d’Italia, the race should attract a number of big-named riders, although it’s too early to say who.
Welcome to Yorkshire say a one-day women’s race, and a mass-participation event, are also planned for the weekend. The former did not appear on the UCI’s provisional 2015 calendar, suggesting it will not be a ranked event.