This year’s Tour de Yorkshire will see a surge in people taking up cycling, says a leading member of the sport’s national governing body.
Tom Mutton, regional partnerships manager for Yorkshire at British Cycling, says the event is a unique opportunity for people in Yorkshire to see some of the world’s best cyclists up-close, and is hugely important in cultivating interest in the sport.
“An event like Tour de Yorkshire really grabs local people’s attention, whether they’re a cyclist or not,” he said.
“There aren’t that many events like this in the world where you can see the best performers on the planet, and not pay a penny for it.”
Mr Mutton said the enthusiasm of local people and especially local schools towards the event speaks of the health of the sport in Yorkshire and its huge untapped potential.
“It touches upon so many different areas, it’s not just based at one venue,” he said.
“People can literally walk outside their house and pitch up a chair if they want to.”
The final stage of the race will see the event reach Sheffield’s streets for the first time in the race’s history, something Mr Mutton is thrilled about.
“It really ties in with the ‘Outdoor City’ status and what the city is trying to do.
“In the last 12 months we’ve seen the launch of the ofo cycling scheme in the city, the announcement that Sheffield will host the final stage of the event, and the possibility of funding for mountain bike trails at the Ski Village, with even more investment heading there soon.”
Schools across Yorkshire are closing to allow children to be a part of the race, with some painting multi-coloured, decorative bikes and making cycling-themed artwork in the spirit of the Tour de France.
Mr Mutton says the event will be a great opportunity for cycling clubs in Yorkshire to inspire the next generation of riders.
“When races like this happen, we do get a lot of clubs asking how they can make sure they’re set up to run a strong youth section.
“The kids get a great chance to learn a bit about the teams and the riders, and it does a lot to inspire not just the next generation, but also those who may then think ‘I should really get the bike out of the shed.'”
The final stage of the race, ‘The Yorkshire Terrier’, will sweep into Sheffield’s Fox Valley at around 5.15pm on the final day of the race, May 6.