The first ever Tour de Yorkshire has ridden itself into the history books after a momentous three days of racing. One and a half million fans at the roadside and TV audiences in more than 150 countries have witnessed some of Yorkshire’s finest scenery, with crowds at key points in the race comparable with the Tour de France.
Initial spectator figures from police and race organisers indicate that on Stage One, 250,000 people watched by the roadside, followed by 450,000 on Stage Two and 750,000 on Stage Three.
A fantastically strong field lined up for the first stage of the men’s race in Bridlington on Friday 1 May, among them World Champions and Olympians and 13 of Yorkshire’s finest riders. Sir Bradley Wiggins drew huge crowds with his Team Wiggins team mates, as did Giant-Aplecin’s Marcel Kittel, Team Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler and Yorkshiremen Ed Clancy of JLT Condor and Team Sky’s Ben Swift.
Sadly by Stage Two the race had lost two of the main protagonists as Ben Swift and Marcel Kittel were forced to retire but Yorkshire’s towns and villages showed no sign of dimming enthusiasm for the race with crowds growing each day. Stage Three proved a hard fought, thrilling day of racing for the international peloton and spectators who lined the route.
The three day men’s race was joined by an 80km women’s race in York on Saturday 2 May, and crowds lined the circuit to see a thrilling sprint finish in what riders called a showcase event for female racing in the UK.
In scenes reminiscent of last year’s Grand Départ, painted bikes, children’s artwork and hundreds of miles of bunting could be seen across Yorkshire weeks ahead of the race. On race day the crowds matched the excitement of the 2014 Tour de France and joint organisers the ASO and Welcome to Yorkshire are already looking ahead to the 2016 race.
Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said “Once again we’ve seen staggering crowds provide a rousing welcome for these incredible riders. I salute each of the 144 riders in the men’s race and 98 in the women’s, and the 6,000 who took on the sportive. We thank the people of Yorkshire and the riders, the crowds, the Tour Makers, the ASO and our team at Welcome to Yorkshire should be immensely proud of the weekend’s achievements.”
Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France (ASO), said: “It was an emotional return to Yorkshire, who did of course put on the grandest of all the grand Départs last year. This was again a special moment, an historic three days and a great advert for cycling and the passio and the heart that Yorkshire has for the sport.”
The race is a joint venture between Welcome to Yorkshire and ASO, with the backing of British Cycling – supported and delivered in partnership in 2015 with North Yorkshire County Council, East Riding Council, Selby District Council, Scarborough Borough Council, City of York Council, Wakefield Council and Leeds City Council.
Key sponsors include Yorkshire Bank, P&O Ferries, Dimension Data and JCT 600 as official car supplier.
The Tour de Yorkshire will return in May next year on a new route with new start and finish towns.