Two Unesco World Heritage sites, four corners of the county and a famous bridge damaged in the floods of last Christmas will all play a role in the third annual Tour de Yorkshire cycle race next April.
The Tour de France legacy event, which is growing in stature each year, runs from Bridlington on Friday, April 28, to Fox Valley in Sheffield on Sunday, April 30.
Some of the best cyclists in the world will tackle the three-day men’s race, with the Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire once again taking pride of place from Tadcaster to Harrogate, on Saturday, April 29.
The prize fund for that race is £50,000, just as it was for its maiden running earlier this year, when superstar names like Lizzie Deignan returned home to fly the flag for Yorkshire in the richest race in women’s cycling.
The women’s race mirrors the same route that the men will take over 122km, with the riders starting on Tadcaster bridge – which will be newly reopened following flood damage last Boxing Day.
Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire and the man responsible for the region’s cycling boom since luring the Tour de France Grand Depart to the region in 2014, said the 2017 race would help unite a community and put the North Yorkshire town back on the map.
“I went to Tadcaster earlier this year with Christian Prudhomme (Tour de France race director) and he and I looked at each other and immediately said we have to come here,” said Sir Gary, at the announcement of the route at the Impressions Gallery in Bradford.
“We have to start a stage on the other side of the bridge, bring the peloton across and get that image going around the world that Tadcaster is open for business.
“We organise bike races but it’s about much more than bike races; it’s about social change, it’s about bringing communities together, it’s about helping people wherever we can in a wider sense and hopefully that’s what we’ll see with Tadcaster.”
There has been no dramatic upgrade to the route or the format of next year’s race, as there was for this year’s renewal with the huge prize fund offered for the women’s race and the lengthening of that course.
But yeary on year the event continues to see growing levels of interest.
Mr Prudhomme said: “I always enjoy coming to Yorkshire and the county certainly knows how to put on a show.
“I am excited by what this year’s route has in store and am sure it will provide three days of fantastic racing.”
Day one of the third Tour de Yorkshire will see riders head out from Bridlington Spa on a 173km stage known as ‘The Coast and the Wolds’, which heads inland through Pocklington and Driffield before heading back to the coast to Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay and into a finish at North Bay in Scarborough.
On day two, the best male and female cyclists in the world head out from Tadcaster on a 122km stage for the sprinters entitled, ‘Historic Market Towns’. That stage ends on Parliament Square in Harrogate, on the same stretch of tarmac where Mark Cavendish crashed in the 2014 Tour de France.
Day three from Bradford to Fox Valley in Sheffield is a brute, with four categorised climbs in the final 22km of the 194.5km route.
During the race, the peloton will pass UNESCO World Heritage Sites at Fountains Abbey and Saltaire.
“I can’t wait to see the world’s best riders tackling these routes,” said Sir Gary.
“We’ve worked hard to design a course which showcases Yorkshire’s stunning scenery as well as delivering a thrilling sporting event. This year the race attracted two million spectators and generated £60m for the local economy, and we’ll go from strength to strength again next year.”
Harrogate Council has approved funding of £250,000 to cover the hosting of the event, and launched a consultation on plans to use part of the Stray as a spectator hub.
The council has applied to the Secretary of State for Communities to apply for the temporary relaxation of some sections of the Stray Act to allow for the accommodation of support and media vehicles in the days preceding, during and after the event. The council said it expects that the area of the West Park Stray bordering the A61 will be used, while a small area on the corner of Oatlands Drive and Knaresborough Road may needed for overflow parking.