British Cycling reject Tour de Yorkshire expansion

The cyclists ride to the finish at Scarborough's North Bay on day one of the 2015 Tour de Yorkshire. (Picture: Richard Ponter)
The cyclists ride to the finish at Scarborough's North Bay on day one of the 2015 Tour de Yorkshire. (Picture: Richard Ponter)

Welcome to Yorkshire’s request to expand the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire from three days to four has been rejected by the sport’s governing body.

The county’s tourism board, along with Tour de France organisers Amaury Sports Organisation, wanted to accelerate the growth of the legacy race following its success over three days in its inaugural running this May.

But British Cycling has rejected the application.

Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “We’ve nothing but the highest regard for British Cycling with all that they have achieved over the last few years, including their record in delivering Great Britain cycling medals.

“However, we are disappointed by the decision of the British Cycling Board not to support our plans for expansion of the Tour de Yorkshire next year.

“Following the great success of the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire we have had huge support for our plans to grow the 2016 race; from professional cycling teams, broadcasters, local authorities, the people of Yorkshire and even the Prime Minister... We will continue to try to persuade the British Cycling Board to change their minds.

“We’re hugely excited about next year’s race and are looking forward to announcing the start and finish locations next month. In the meantime, we will continue to support the work of British Cycling in Yorkshire.”

A British Cycling statement read: “British Cycling can confirm the decision to maintain the Tour de Yorkshire as a three-day event with a 2:1 classification for 2016.

“The decision was taken by the board of British Cycling following a request from co-organisers Welcome to Yorkshire to move to a four-day race with a 2.HC classification.

“The board revisited the previous classification decision and reviewed the duration increase request in detail but concluded that the event should remain at three days and with 2.1 classification for 2016.

“This format was agreed in the contract signed with Welcome to Yorkshire and was the basis upon which the event was approved as part of a balanced international racing calendar which ensures people across Britain have a chance to see world-class cycling on our roads.

“The Tour de Yorkshire’s place in the international cycling calendar is much-coveted in this country and abroad, and we have a responsibility to ensure the best return possible for the sport.

“The decision was also made in the light of the UCI’s reforms of the calendar, expected towards the end of the year, and which need to be understood before further decisions can be made on British Cycling’s major events strategy.

“The board wanted to stress they were encouraged by the initial success of the Tour de Yorkshire but four months after the inaugural event is too soon for the meaningful analysis needed to reframe a four-year agreement. All the signs are that the Tour de Yorkshire will be successful but more evidence is required before an informed judgement can be made.

“A stage race for professional road cyclists - regardless of whether it is three or four days - will not on its own sustain the wider impacts and benefits for cycling needed for the transformation of cycling in Yorkshire and to which Welcome to Yorkshire has committed.

“British Cycling’s relationship with Yorkshire goes well beyond this event. We continue to make substantial investment in programmes, facilities, events and volunteers in the region and the Tour de Yorkshire has a formal role to play in that.

“We remain absolutely committed to investing and growing cycling in Yorkshire, working with Welcome to Yorkshire and local authority partners across the region as part of our nationwide strategy to transform cycling.”

The race will remain a three-day event and be staged over the Bank Holiday Weekend next May.