Verity eyeing worlds for Yorkshire

Published: Monday 4th May 2015 by The News Editor

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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.

The three-day race, a spin-off from last summer’s Grand Depart of the Tour de France in the county, attracted an estimated 1.5million fans to the county’s roadsides, a phenomenal number for an event on this level in its first year.

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary 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 ASO, 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.”

One of the big draws this year was having Sir Bradley Wiggins in the field, although the 2012 Tour de France winner is in effect on a lap of honour as he winds down his road racing career to focus on the track.

While Wiggins finished well down in the pack, it was one of his old team-mates from Team Sky, Lars Petter Nordhaug, who finished as the overall leader, 11 seconds ahead of BMC Racing’s Samuel Sanchez and Thomas Voeckler of Europcar.

The success of the event could well attract an even stronger field next year, but it remains to be seen if the absolute elite will soon be here for a world championships.

While Prudhomme tried to keep a diplomatic distance from an outright endorsement of Yorkshire’s ambitions, he was pretty clear in his view.

“I’m the director of the Tour,” he said. “I just repeat what I said. Yorkshire is made for cycling, so you can imagine everything and anything you want for cycling here. Not only cycling for champions, but cycling for everyone.”

Published: Monday 4th May 2015 by The News Editor

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