We’ve had the dramatic mountains of the Tour of the Basque Country. Last Sunday saw the Tour of Turkey pedal through that extraordinary meeting point of East and West in Istanbul. I even managed to catch a few km of the Tour of Croatia which looked beautiful and the exotic Tour of Kazakhstan is around the corner. Who else is going to get into the act? Well, today sees the 2nd edition of our very own Tour in God’s own country, the Tour de Yorkshire, from Friday 29th April to Sunday 1st May.
This is the second edition of our homegrown 3 day stage race, a legacy event after the Grand Depart for the Tour de France in 2014. Team Sky’s Lars Petter Nordhaug was victor last year among a highly competitive field of top teams from both the world tour and UCI ranked domestic competitors. Among the big boys like Sky, Orica Green Edge, BMC and Katusha this year, watch out for Team Wiggins, led by Sir Brad himself, probably the most popular domestic team to take part, as well as Raleigh, Madison Genesis and JLTCondor all trying to make their mark on our local roads.
What’s more, the Women’s race will be on equal footing with a £50,000 prize fund. Keeping the tradition of French supermarkets sponsoring races on the continent, our very own ASDA has enticed World Champion, Lizzie Armitstead to compete in “the most lucrative women’s cycle race in the world.” Their race will take on exactly the same course as the men’s, with the 135km stage from Otley, Lizzie’s birthplace, to Doncaster.
Despite adopting the French lingo for our British Tour such as the Cote de Blakey’s Ridge and the the Cote de Oliver’s Mount, I’m pleased to report that our Yorkshire folk have maintained a few of our British peculiarities such as ‘yarn-bombing.’ Street artists aged between one and 97 were reported to have decorated Thirsk with hundreds of woollen creations. Let’s hope that they’ve survived the recent snow and arctic conditions that put the travails of Liege Baston Liege into the shade.
The first two days are relatively flat affairs that should favour the sprinters. The exciting talent of Caleb Ewan should come to the fore. But day 3 is a tough one with six categorized climbs including the 1.3km Sutton Bank with an average gradient of 12%, although it apparently ramps up to 25% in the middle section. Meanwhile the iconic Oliver’s Mount, less than 10km from the finish line at Scarborough, is sure to be packed with fans and atmosphere as the riders wind their way to what could be a dramatic finale.
Amateur riders will be out in force for the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire sportive on Sunday, crossing the same finishing line as the pros. It’s all shaping up for a great May Day!
You can catch it all on ITV4 who are broadcasting pretty much the whole thing live, while Eurosport 2 are showing the final part of each stage as well as a highlights package later in the evening. Let’s hope Ride Velo favourite, Sean Kelly, is in the commentary box. Allez, Tour de Yorkshire!