Tour de Yorkshire returns amid growing popularity


Tour de Yorkshire organisers are hoping for another weekend of bumper crowds as they continue with ambitious plans to grow the event.

The second three-day Tour will begin on Friday when a strong field - including Sir Bradley Wiggins and British champion Peter Kennaugh of Team Sky - tackle a 185km route from Beverley to Settle.

Last year an estimated 1.5 million people lined the roads to watch the inaugural edition of the race - a legacy of the 2014 Grand Depart of the Tour de France - a number which quickly saw the race establish itself on the world calendar.

Snappa graphic for the Tour de Yorkshire

"Yorkshire arrived like a meteor in the world of cycling two years ago with the unforgettable Grand Depart, the grandest Grand Depart ever," said Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France and chief of ASO, the organiser of this race.

"To have huge crowds again last year we thought impossible but yes, there were huge crowds again."

Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome To Yorkshire, has grand goals of staging a world championships here in the near future but his next priority is persuading British Cycling to back plans to expand this to a four-day race - something that would allow for the women's race to be held over multiple days as well.

Tour de Yorkshire bunting
(Michael Atkinson/Welcome to York/PA)

This year the Tour is looking to make its mark in women's cycling, and on Saturday the one-day women's race will follow the same 136.5km route from Otley to Doncaster which will form stage two of the men's race later in the day.

World champion Lizzie Armitstead will wear her rainbow jersey as she competes with the rest of the peloton for a record prize fund which totals £50,000 - more than on offer in the men's race.