Yorkshire set for new May race on back of Tour de France opener

The northern England county says it will work with ASO to host a three-day event beginning in May 2015

LONDON (AFP) — Yorkshire’s hosting of the opening stage of this year’s Tour de France will lead to a new international race in the northern English county, officials announced Thursday.

Speaking in the Yorkshire town of Harrogate, 100 days out from the July 5 start of this year’s Tour, Yorkshire tourism bosses unveiled a new agreement with Tour owner ASO.

“We have signed a memorandum of understanding with British Cycling and ASO to launch a new international bike race in Yorkshire from May 2015 onwards,” said Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire. “It will be three days of cycling right the way across the county, in places that missed out on the Tour this time round, such as the coast and Ryedale.

“We are very excited about having an ongoing international bike race working with the best-organized bike race in the world, and with British Cycling, who are great sporting body.”

Verity added: “We have always said that the Tour de France is the start of this journey, not the end of it. We want to have more cycling events of all types and anything we can do to facilitate that is something we are going to commit to.”

Turning to this year’s Tour de France, where the first stage finishes in Harrogate, Verity said Dutch team Giant-Shimano would be going all-out to wreck dreams of a win for the Isle of Man’s Mark Cavendish, whose mother lives in the spa town.

“The first stage is designed for a sprinter to win and clearly Mark Cavendish is the greatest sprinter in the history of the Tour and his mum is from Harrogate, so if you like the romance he would be your favorite to win,” Verity said. “But Marcel Kittel will have something to say about that and his Giant-Shimano team are coming over to do a recce of the stage in the next couple of weeks and they have told me they are targeting the Harrogate stage.

“I am sure Marcel Kittel would like nothing better to get one over his arch-rival in Harrogate, so a win for Cavendish is not a shoo-in by any means.

“But July 5 is also the Isle of Man’s national day, which is another good thing if you believe in omens.”