Leeds is to play a starring role in next year’s Tour de Yorkshire, and future editions, after organisers announced the city will host the finish to a stage known as the Yorkshire Classic.
Already the site of the landmark Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France, and a finish or two of the Tour de Yorkshire, the Headrow is set to host the finish of the race annually.
Such was the success of 2018’s final stage from the Piece Hall in Halifax to the Headrow in Leeds – a 175km beast that included five categorised climbs – that race organisers Welcome to Yorkshire are going back there on Sunday, May 5, 2019.
Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive and Tour de Yorkshire organiser Sir Gary Verity said: “I spoke to the riders at the end of the stage in Leeds and some on the Monday after and said ‘look, how about if we run that every year and have a Yorkshire Classic’.
“And it was (race winner) Greg van Avermaet, who said: ‘I think it’s the obvious thing to do, I don’t know why you don’t do it already’. So ok fair enough, we’ll look at that, and I think it will work really well.
“There’s a couple of tweaks, it’ll be a faster finish now because we’re coming straight off the climb at Otley and then straight into Leeds.
“Tinshill Lane we thought might do as a climb but the riders said it’s not really savage enough for a climb so we’ve put a sprint on it instead.
“So it’s going to be a lumpy but fast finish coming into Leeds and if we can do that every year as a Yorkshire Classic it will become one of the monuments of cycling.
“With the iconic start at the Piece Hall and with the lumpiness, the ruggedness of the ride, it will be a like a Spring Classic.”
Stage one begins in Doncaster on Thursday, May 2, and runs 178.5km to a finish outside Selby Abbey, which in 2019 celebrates its 950th anniversary.
Friday sees the women’s two-day race begin with a 132km route into Bedale, with the men set to mirror that journey. That stage includes the circuit into Harrogate which will be used at the UCI Road World Championships in Harrogate later that year.
Saturday sees cyclists ride from Bridlington to Scarborough before that potentially explosive final stage into Leeds on the Sunday.