Tour de Yorkshire: more than an Elite cycling race
Host of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Départ, the annual Tour de Yorkshire, and next year’s UCI Road World Championships… the county of Yorkshire in Northern England has, over the years, become synonymous with cycling.
However, as well as catering to the world’s Elite, the county’s authorities are constantly encouraging the local population to take to their bicycles. Their efforts were recognised last year when they were awarded the UCI Bike Region label.
There is no doubt that watching the world’s best is hugely inspiring, and to cash in on that, a series of events has been organised around the upcoming Tour de Yorkshire (May 3 – 6).
Tour de Yorkshire: the county dressed to the nines
In its three years of existence, the Tour de Yorkshire (TDY) has become renowned for the welcome from and atmosphere in the host cities, towns and villages. Along the race route, there is no shortage of cycling-themed decorations, with bunting hanging above the streets and bicycles painted in the Tour’s yellow and blue colours. Even some of the region’s sheep have been seen to sport a yellow/blue makeover.
Building on the enthusiasm already demonstrated by local businesses and households, Welcome to Yorkshire - the region’s destination management organisation - is this year running a Land Art competition and a Best Dressed competition.
The best piece of land art - for example a decorated building or installation in a field - along the course, will be rewarded with an official land art trophy.
The first year of the Best Dressed competition, organised in association with the Yorkshire Post newspaper, will honour TDY-decorated towns, cities and villages in four categories: Best Dressed Village, Best Dressed Town, Best Dressed Host Location and Spirit of Le Tour.
Since the start of the year, Welcome to Yorkshire has visited more than 60 towns and villages across the county with a TDY roadshow. These events give local residents, businesses and community groups information about the Tour and provide tips on ways to capitalise on the global focus on Yorkshire.
Last year, 2.2 million spectators lined the race routes, and the local economy benefited from £64m as a result of hosting the race.
Tour de France: legacy includes bike libraries
Long recognised as an ideal cycling region with varied and beautiful roads, Yorkshire first became the centre of the Elite international spotlight when it hosted the 2014 Tour de France Grand Départ. The following year saw the first edition of the now annual Tour de Yorkshire, which is part of the UCI Europe Tour. Alongside these Elite events, a whole raft of activities has been organised to encourage cycling amongst residents and promote the region as a cycling destination internationally and in the UK. The region has the ambition to get ‘more people cycling, more often’ under the dedicated Cycle Yorkshire initiative, backed by a strategy endorsed by political leaders.
One region-wide effort that embodies this commitment is The Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries project, launched as a legacy programme following the 2014 Grand Départ. The mission of the project is to make a bike accessible to every child in Yorkshire, with the programme providing hire bicycles free of charge to families and children across the region.
The Bike Libraries project has been a clear success, and the 50th library is set to open in June. Over 60 donation stations across the county receive unwanted bikes that are then put to good use within the Bike Library network. The initiative has received international recognition, winning the Sport Simple Programme of the Year award at the Peace and Sport Awards in December 2017.
Next year, Yorkshire will host the 2019 UCI Road World Championships and the legacy promises to be long-lasting. Of the £24 million the UK government is investing in the event, £15 million will go towards the development of 27 cycle sport facilities in the UK.