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Tour de Yorkshire

The first ever Tour de Yorkshire attracted crowds reminiscent of last year’s highly successful Grand Depart. It is estimated that this year’s race created around £30m for the local economy

by Tom Walker, Leisure Media | Published in Sports Management 2015 issue 2
As the race advanced, the crowds got bigger, with up to 750,000 people lining up to see the final stage from Wakefield to Leeds
As the race advanced, the crowds got bigger, with up to 750,000 people lining up to see the final stage from Wakefield to Leeds

More than 1.2 million people turned out for the inaugural three-day Tour de Yorkshire, according to the race’s organisers. An estimated 250,000 lined the route on the first day of the new cycle race – from Bridlington to Scarborough – while another 450,000 came out for the second stage from Selby to York. Even bigger crowds of 500,000-750,000 saw the final leg from Wakefield to Leeds. The race was set up as part of the legacy plans for the successful Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire in 2014, which saw the government pledging to invest £800,000 in improving cycling facilities in Yorkshire – and promoting this year’s Tour de Yorkshire.

Yorkshire’s economy benefitted to the value of £100m from hosting the Grand Depart last year and this year’s event is estimated to have created £30m to £40m in tourism revenues. In February, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said £500,000 would go to building new cycling facilities – including new circuits – designed to support 10,000 competitive and recreational cyclists wanting to take part in the sport away from traffic, with access to support facilities. A further £300,000 was invested in international marketing to promote Tour de Yorkshire.

The Tour de Yorkshire 2015 is a new UCI (International Cycling Union) approved international cycle race. It is a 2.1 European Tour class race being delivered by Amaury Sport Organisation and Welcome to Yorkshire with the backing of British Cycling. Major teams including Team Sky, Team Giant Alpecin and the new Team Wiggins all took part. The race was won by Norwegian Lars-Petter Nordhaug, with Spain’s Samuel Sanchez in second place and Thomas Voeckler from France in third.

Amateur cyclists were also given the opportunity to take part. The Tour de Yorkshire Ride, a mass participation bike ride, proved to be one of the most challenging and popular sportives in the British calendar. Organised by Human Race, it took place before the pro race on the morning of the final day, (Sunday 3 May) with thousands of amateur and community riders taking part.

Welcome to Yorkshire also organised a month-long Tour de Yorkshire Festival from 1 April to 3 May 2015 to showcase the county’s rich and diverse cultural offering.

According to race organiser Gary Verity, the success of the new race confirms that there is a demand for it – and the crowds have secured its immediate future.

“We’re organising a race because there is a big demand for it”, he said.

“In 10 years’ time, maybe people will love it less, maybe they will love it more. We would love to be sat here in 50 years’ time discussing the 50th edition.

“From the point of view of Yorkshire and growing the economy here – and the culture of cycling in the region – this has to be a successful event.”

The people of Yorkshire have certainly taken to the race – a fact not missed by the athletes taking part. Dutchman Moreno Hofland, who rides for Blanco Pro Cycling Team and won the race’s second stage, summed up the reaction to the crowds when he said: “It is not normal, even in villages the people were three or four deep. It is really cool to be here.”

Even Prime Minister David Cameron managed to catch some of the action, visiting the village of Addingham, near Ilkley, in a break from his successful election campaigning.

• To read more, see Sports Management Issue 2, 2014: http://lei.sr?a=U8O2t

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