The Tour de Yorkshire’s absence from the race calendar will extend to two years as the race organisers have cancelled the 2021 edition due to the coronavirus pandemic and a need to focus resources elsewhere.
The 2020 edition was scrapped as the cycling season was halted this spring, and, despite an extensive international programme of races taking place over the summer and autumn, a decision has been taken not to press on with next year’s event.
The race is organised by Welcome to Yorkshire, along with Tour de France organisers ASO, and it was the regional tourism board that, with the UK in lockdown amid a second wave of COVID-19 infections, felt it impractical to hold the event scheduled for April 30-May 3.
“During these uncertain times Welcome to Yorkshire need to focus on the immediate needs of the industry without committing both financial and human resources towards any activity or event that we cannot be certain of,” said Welcome to Yorkshire’s Chief Executive James Mason.
“Whilst it is very disappointing that we will be bereft of this wonderful race for another year, the decision we have made it the right one and perhaps the only one we could make. The uncertainty in front of us meant it was impossible to plan or commit the resource that the race needs. This has been a mutual decision made by Welcome to Yorkshire and the A.S.O. and we will all now look forward to putting all our energies into bringing the race back bigger and better than ever in 2022.”
The Tour de Yorkshire was set up in 2015 as a legacy event for the Grand Départ of the 2014 Tour de France, after the first two stages took place in the region in the north of England.
The men’s race was initially held as a three-stage event before expanding to four days in 2018, while the women’s race started as a one-day race and expanded to a two-day stage race in the same year.
The event has been described by Welcome to Yorkshire as “an incredible success for the county,” with claimed figures of 2.6 million roadside spectators in 2018 and a potential television audience of 28 million across 190 countries in 2019.
However, the driving force behind the Grand Départ and the creation of the Tour de Yorkshire, Gary Verity, stepped down as chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire last year after an investigation into his expenses and behaviour towards staff.
“We fully understand Welcome to Yorkshire’s position and are totally associated with this joint decision,” said Yann Le Moenner, director general of ASO.
“We have worked a lot together since the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014 to put the Tour de Yorkshire on the top of the international cycling calendar. This work is obviously not wasted and we will collectively do our best to re-launch the event in 2022 and give the chance to the world’s best riders to be on the Yorkshire roads in front of one of the most enthusiastic audiences the cycling world has ever seen.”
Lars Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky) won the inaugural edition of the men’s Tour de Yorkshire, followed by Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), and Chris Lawless (Team Ineos).
Louise Mahé (Ikon-Mazda) won the first women’s race, with Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) and Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) then winning the one-day event, the latter on home turf. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) won the first iteration as a stage race in 2018, followed by Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) in 2019.