Cycling chiefs back new race

Blackpool Citizen: Welcome To Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, left, hopes the county will stage a new international road race Welcome To Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, left, hopes the county will stage a new international road race

British Cycling chiefs have backed an ambitious bid to capitalise on Yorkshire's historic hosting of the start of the Tour de France by staging an annual international race in the county.

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity announced the plan at an event in Harrogate to mark 100 days until the first stage of the 2014 Tour on July 5, which will finish in the town.

The event will be staged in conjunction with British Cycling and Tour de France organisers ASO, and all three parties have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding to commit to its development.

British Cycling director of cycle sport, Jonny Clay, said: "This is good news for cycling fans across the country but particularly in Yorkshire, where interest in the sport has rocketed thanks to the Grand Depart.

"However, there is still a great deal to be done - interest in staging international standard road racing in this country has increased to the level where we're now in the fortunate position of being able to ensure the best possible deal for the sport.

"Principle among our criteria for approval is the long-term viability of an event - we want races which will return to inspire people year after year - and how effective it will be in getting more people and investment into grassroots roots cycling.

"We look forward to working with ASO and Welcome to Yorkshire to help them create an event which meets all our expectations."

Verity insisted there was never any danger of the county not reaping the long-term benefits of the prestigious staging of the Grand Depart.

Hopes are high that Mark Cavendish - whose mother lives in Harrogate - will mark the occasion by claiming the yellow jersey in the first stage sprint.

Verity said: "We have always said that the Tour de France is the start of this journey, not the end of it. We want to have more cycling events of all types and anything we can do to facilitate that is something we are going to commit to.

"We are very excited about having an ongoing international bike race working with the best organised bike race in the world, and with British Cycling who are great sporting body."

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