The Tour de Yorkshire has announced a major step up for their women’s race with the 2016 event now boasting a £50,000 prize fund and live coverage.
Now only in its second year the event has secured sponsorship from the supermarket chain, Asda, and will cover 135km – compared to four laps of a 20km loop last year. The event will also be broadcast live and in full on ITV4 and Eurosport.
Last year, organiers told us they were shocked at the inequality in women's cycling and wanted to make a difference, with the hope of attracting more elite female racers. The event is organised by the ASO, in association with British Cycling, and sees men tackle three stages in three days. Ranked as a UCI 1.2 race, both professional and domestic teams can enter.
The £50,000 prize fund will be divvied between teams and individuals with first place fetching £15,000, second £10,000 and third £5,000 – prize money will be awarded to the top 20 riders. According to Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, if a male rider won all three stages, and the overall, they'd make around £11,000 - so the event is indeed offering something very unique for women.
Last year’s winner was Louise Mahe, then of Ikon-Mazda and now racing for Les Filles as she takes on full time teaching. This year the roster is expected to contain some of women’s cycling’s biggest stars and Yorkshire rider and World Champion Lizzie Armitstead is already signed up.
Excited by the race, which will start in her home town of Otley, Armitstead has said: “The Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s race will be my first race in the UK in my World Champions jersey and it’s an absolute dream to be starting in my home town."
Armitstead will race in the Great Britain team at this event, and already confirmed are a selection of UCI Pro teams, and domestic teams – most interestingly both pro team Podium Ambition, headed up by Dame Sarah Storey, and their supporting club Boot Out Breast Cancer.
— BOBC Cycling Club (@TeamBootOutBC) March 23, 2016
Speaking of the sponsorship and reasons to support women’s racing, Andy Clarke, Asda President and CEO said: “It’s a privilege to be supporting the Tour de Yorkshire women’s race and helping to raise the profile of women’s sports. In 2014 Asda was the official partner of the Tour Makers for the Yorkshire Grand Départ, which was a resounding success. We’re incredibly proud of our Yorkshire roots and wanted to remain part of this exciting legacy that works to bring communities together in celebration of an amazing sport set against the backdrop of an unbeatable county."
The Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire will be broadcast live on ITV4 and Eurosport. Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Today is a hugely significant milestone for women’s racing. We’ve come good on our promise to expand the women’s race and rather than rest at bringing parity in terms of the men’s route and broadcast coverage, we’ve gone further to offer the world’s most lucrative prize fund.
“Together with our sponsors, we’re bringing women’s racing the respect it deserves and I can think of no better way to start our race in Otley than with our very own World Champion on the start line."
The race, orgainsed by the ASO in association with British Cycling, will take place in May and we’ll be sharing TV schedules and times closer to the event.
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