This week one of the most gruelling events in cycling returns to Yorkshire.
The Tour de Yorkshire, now into its fourth year, is set to attract record-breaking crowds and a huge economic stimulus for the region.
The four-day race, which takes place between May 3-6, will see over 200 professional riders make their way from Beverley on the east coast to Leeds in West Yorkshire, covering a distance of 704km.
Last year’s race attracted 2.2 million spectators and generated £64 million for the local economy, and now that the event has been extended from three days to four, this year’s Tour de Yorkshire is expected to be the biggest and highest grossing yet.
Sir Gary Verity, CEO of race organiser Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “We’ve worked hard to design a dramatic and varied parcours which take in some of our county’s most spectacular terrain.
“I’m sure the world’s best riders will relish the challenge it poses and we’ll be treated to a tremendous fourth edition.”
A star team of 11 Yorkshire-based riders was announced last week, including Team GB duo Ben Swift and Tom Pidcock, both of whom have won gold medals at the UCI World Championships.
Ben’s cousin Connor will be competing as part of the Madison Genesis team, while former British champions Adam Blythe and Russell Downing will also be turning out for the White Rose county.
Last week, Welcome to Yorkshire and race promoter Amaury Sport Organisation added yet more top riders to an already star-studded line-up.
Rio 2016 track gold medallist Owain Doull will compete for Team Sky, as will British compatriot and two-time Belgian grand slam winner Ian Stannard.
The @letouryorkshire is right around the corner in #UCIBikeRegion Yorkshire. This UK region embraces cycling for all – this week we will be sharing info about cycling in #Yorkshire! https://t.co/hHAONhNMHn Image © Gareth Copley/ Getty pic.twitter.com/BJuRE3T9AG
— Cycling For All 🚲 (@cycling) April 30, 2018
Sir Verity said he is thrilled to have attracted such a strong field, and is looking forward to four days of world-class cycling action.
“It’s always exciting to receive the provisional start list and once again we’ve been able to attract a stellar cast of riders,” he said.
“I can’t wait to see them compete over the four stages, and the route we’ve laid on this year will certainly test them and deliver spectacular action.”
Christian Prudhomme, director of ASO, said riders can look forward to a warm Yorkshire welcome and some spectacular backdrops along the way.
“These high-profile riders want to visit Yorkshire because of the amazing greeting they receive,” said Prudhomme.
“They also know the county provides amazing routes and scenery, and this year’s route looks fantastic with something for every type of rider.”