Cycling news - Sir Gary Verity hoping Tour de Yorkshire finale becomes a ‘monument of cycling’
Sir Gary Verity wants the last stage of the Tour de Yorkshire to establish itself as one of the “monuments of cycling” after announcing plans to return to the same route used in last year’s memorable finale.
Verity revealed that the 2019 edition of the race would again conclude with a stage from Halifax to Leeds.
At Friday’s route announcement in Leeds, Verity revealed that the 2019 edition of the race would again conclude with a stage from Halifax to Leeds via the imposing climbs of Park Rash, Greenhow Hill and Otley Chevin on Sunday, May 5.
Organisers now plan to include the stage – with the occasional tweak – in all future editions of the race to help build its reputation.
It was on these roads that Cofidis rider Stephane Rossetto soloed to a superb stage win in May in arguably the best day’s racing the Tour de Yorkshire has yet seen in its four-year history.
Greg Van Avermaet came home in second place to seal overall victory, and Verity – the chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire – revealed the Olympic champion helped persuade him to make it a regular feature. Verity said:
" I spoke to the riders at the end of the stage in Leeds and some on the Monday after and said, ‘Look, how about it if we run that every year and have a Yorkshire Classic’?"
“And it was Greg Van Avermaet – who has just announced he is going to come back and defend his title – he said, ‘I think it’s an obvious thing to do, I don’t know why you don’t do it already’.”
It may never quite compare with the five true Monuments – the biggest one-day races in the world cycling calendar with their rich history – but Verity sees a bright future.
“It’s going to be a lumpy but fast finish coming into Leeds, and if we can do that every year as a Yorkshire Classic it will become one of the monuments of cycling,” he said.
Next May the stage will cap a four-day race – newly upgraded by the UCI to 2.HC status, the highest outside the WorldTour – which begins with a 178.5km stage from Doncaster to Selby via the Yorkshire Wolds.
The next two days will see the men and women’s pelotons contest entirely identical routes, 132km from Barnsley to Bedale on the Friday and 132km from Bridlington to Scarborough via the North Yorkshire Moors on the Saturday.
Friday’s stage will include the city circuit in Harrogate which will provide the finale for September’s UCI Road World Championships, giving riders their only opportunity to recce the route in race conditions.
By moving the women’s race back a day to include a weekend, organisers aim to give the race even greater exposure to larger crowds and bigger TV audiences.
Annie SimpsonGetty Images
“That’s really big,” Bingley rider Annie Simpson, who will switch to Team OnForm for 2019, told Press Association Sport. “Thursday and Friday last year were brilliant and it still takes my breath away to think about it now.
" But getting the weekend, especially for TV coverage, is huge because there are obviously more viewers because they are more people available to watch."
“That’s what we need because we can go to sponsors and say, ‘Look, the full race is going to be on TV and it’s going to be on at prime time on a Saturday’. That is really special.”
Scott Thwaites, who missed this year’s race through injury, believes the route is ‘easier’ than previous editions, with three potential sprint finishes, but reckons that can produce better racing.
“If you make it too hard it cancels out all the racing because people are afraid to attack,” he said.
“The ‘easy’ stage last year the breakaway stayed away and (Harry) Tanfield got his great victory. You don’t have to make the stage that hard to create that excitement.”