The UCI, world cycling’s governing body, has confirmed the men’s Tour de Yorkshire race will grow from three to four days next year, with the women’s race increasing from one to two days. The 2018 men’s race will take place from 3-6 May – Thursday to Sunday – with the women’s race scheduled for 3 and 4 May.
The extra days are a major boost for the organisers, Welcome to Yorkshire and the French company ASO, who have been lobbying for more time in the race calendar since the men’s event started in 2015. Since that first edition – which built on Yorkshire’s successful hosting of the start of the 2014 Tour de France – the races have grown in popularity with the first women’s event taking place last year.
In a statement, Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive, Sir Gary Verity, thanked British Cycling for backing the bid for a longer race, and the UCI for granting it. “This decision will help us attract even bigger names in the future and allow us to design a more varied and spectacular route,” he said. “Our race is growing in stature all the time and the next two editions will hold even greater prestige given that Yorkshire is also hosting the UCI road world championships in 2019.”
Verity added that “cycling is booming across the county”, which the UCI further recognised on Wednesday by naming it as one of its first five global “bike regions”. With a claimed roadside crowd of more than two million fans, this year’s event was broadcast live in 180 countries and generated more than £60m for the local economy.
ASO’s Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour de France, said: “The size and passion of the crowds has impressed not just me but the cyclists too. They are always blown away by the reception they receive and are already looking forward to coming back in 2018. Extending the race to four days will allow us to visit more parts of the county and put on an even greater show.”
An announcement on the venues for next year’s starts and finishes is expected in the coming weeks. The Belgian rider Serge Pauwels won this year’s men’s race, with the local favourite Lizzie Deignan taking the women’s prize.