Cycling fever is set to return to the diocese next Spring with the announcement of the route of the Tour de Yorkshire 2016.
The Tour was held for the first time this year, as a legacy of the Tour de France, and is classified as a major international cycle race with 18 teams of eight riders riding across all four corners of Yorkshire, linking together the county’s sporting, historic, industrial and literary greats.
Last May it attracted 1.5.million roadside spectators, was televised live and generated several million pounds for the region’s economy.
However, unlike this year when the majority of the three day event took place to the east (in the Diocese of York), in 2016 two of the three stages, on April 29th and 30th, will go through the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales passing around 30 of our churches and parishes.
Huge crowds are again expected …. And on Stage One, on Friday April 29th, after starting in Beverley and travelling through Tadcaster, the Tour de Yorkshire will enter the diocese as the riders pedal through Wetherby,Knaresborough and Ripley. A series of climbs will take the riders past Burnt Yates and Brimham Rocks then through Pately Bridge, Grassington and on to Cracoe, Gargrave, Hellifield, Long Preston, Giggleswick finishing in Settle.
Stage Two marks a milestone for the Tour de Yorkshire, as the women’s race will be held on exactly the same route as the men’s race. The women’s race will start in the morning and the men’s race will begin in the early afternoon. The Stage on Saturday April 30th begins at Otley, home town of current women’s road World Champion Lizzie Armitstead. From there riders will travel through Pool (where the racing officially starts), then the riders (in both the men’s and women’s races) face an early King/ Queen of the Mountain challenge at Harewood Bank, before heading south east towards another King/ Queen of the Mountain at East Rigton. They race on through East Keswick, Bardsey and Thorner, Scholes, Barwick in Elmet and Aberford before riding south through Pontefract, Wentbridge, Badworth, Knottingley and South Emsall finally heading out of the diocese and on to Doncaster.
The thirty or so churches on the route are already being invited to thinking about how they can make the most of the Bank Holiday weekend. During the Tour de France in 2014, many churches invited served hot drinks and snacks, invited spectators in to watch other parts of the stage on TV, handed out water bottles to cyclists, and were decorated with flags and bunting.
Communications Officer, Canon John Carter is already in touch with the churches and would like to hear from them as and when plans emerge… Contact him at john.carter [at] westyorkshiredales.anglican.org (subject: Tour%20de%20Yorkshire)