Organisers are planning to grow the Tour de Yorkshire next year, with an extra day for the men’s race and a huge boost in the prize purse for the women’s event.
Gary Verity (MBE) has said he was shocked at the lack of equality in prize money for female pros, and he wants to make his event “the most lucrative women’s cycle race in the world.”
“We are very ambitious about the women’s race”, he has said, adding that he expects to attract an elite field including local heroine Lizzie Armitstead, and Marianne Vos, assuming she is back to full fitness.
The increased women’s prize fund has been supported by British Cycling, but they are hesitant about adding an extra day to the men’s event, which will take place over the May Bank Holiday.
The plan has been supported by all borough councils involved in the race, plus the , and Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford.
British Cycling have said; “While we welcome the ambition for the Tour de Yorkshire, we believe efforts are better focused on, firstly, ensuring the race is as good as it can be in its current format and, secondly, delivering real benefits for Yorkshire by getting more people on their bikes.”
Verity has operated outside of governing body before, successfully hosting the Tour Grand Depart in 2014, despite a bid from BC to start the race in Edinburgh.
He said: “It’s a no-brainer. The public in Yorkshire wants it to be four days and the riders want it to be four days,” said Verity.
He added: “UK participation levels in cycling have dropped, except for in Yorkshire. This region is a success for British Cycling and we will do all we can to support (British Cycling president) Bob Howden by getting the numbers to grow further in Yorkshire, and do our best to transform women’s cycling.”
Last year’s event was won by Louise Mahé (Ikon-Mazda) in a fast paced sprint at the end of the 80km race. The cycling journalist pipped National Criterium Champ Eileen Roe (Wiggle Honda) to first place, and Katie Curtis (Pearl Izumi) was in third.
The next major race in the women’s calendar is this weekend’s La Course, which rewards the women’s winner with equal prize money to the men’s final Tour de France stage victor.