Yorkshire’s bid to host cycling’s world championships took a big step towards becoming a reality this weekend with the huge success of the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire, Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity said yesterday.
The three-day race, a spin-off from last summer’s Grand Depart of the Tour de France in the county, attracted an estimated 1.5 million fans to the county’s roadsides, a phenomenal number for an event on this level in its first year.
Verity had already set out his ambition to host the world championships in the near future but his sales pitch is looking much stronger after another weekend to remember.
“We would love to have the world championships here in Yorkshire,” Verity said. “It’s an obvious thing. The world championships I think would love to come to Yorkshire after what you’ve seen over the last few days, one and a half million people out for the first edition of a new race.
“You see much smaller crowds at other events so why wouldn’t you want to come here? We have all the ingredients.”
In order to pursue his dream, Verity must first persuade British Cycling to bid for the championships, and also persuade it that Yorkshire is the region to focus on.
Verity said he has had some discussions with the national governing body but there is no timetable yet in place for them to go to the next stage.
This weekend’s race was organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation, the company behind the Tour de France, as a direct legacy of the Grand Depart.
Even though they had some idea of what to expect after last summer, director Christian Prudhomme said he was blown away by the crowds.
“I hoped to see many people but you always have a question mark,” Prudhomme said. “Is it possible to get so many people again as the Grand Depart? So I was thrilled when we were in the car climbing some of the hills, it was unbelievable.”