Tour De France legend Mark Cavendish will be among the riders doing battle on Yorkshire’s roads next month.
Cavendish has had an injury-hit start to 2018 and missed last weekend’s Commonwealth Games road race, on Australia’s Gold Coast, but the Manxman confirmed yesterday, Wednesday, he will make his Tour de Yorkshire debut.
Cavendish said: “I’m delighted to have recovered sufficiently from my injuries at Milan-San Remo to be back racing sooner than I initially thought and what better way to do that than at what could be described as a home race for me, the Tour de Yorkshire?”
He aadded: “My mother’s from Harrogate and obviously the last time I raced things didn’t go that great (for me) in the 2014 Tour de France; but one thing I do remember is the incredible crowds and I know that the Tour de Yorkshire always provides. It’s first time that I’ve raced the Tour de Yorkshire and I’m extremely excited.”
Fractured ribs and a damaged ankle, suffered in Italy, had left Cavendish’s involvement in doubt and he admitted: “Results-wise; I’m not sure where my form will be actually only having had a couple of weeks back on the bike but I’ll just be absorbing the atmosphere in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”
Cavendish’s name on the start list is a huge boost for organisers Welcome to Yorkshire. Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity enthused: “Mark is a living legend in the world of cycling and we’re over the moon that he will be competing at the Tour de Yorkshire next month.
“His crash in Italy looked really serious but he’s such a tough, tenacious character and we’re thrilled he’s been able to make such a speedy recovery.
“I’m sure Mark will have his eyes on at least two of the stages on this year’s route and we can’t wait to see him launch his trademark sprint. It’s not every day you get to see a sportsman of his stature competing on home roads and we’re certain he’ll receive a hero’s welcome.”
The 2018 Tour de Yorkshire has been expanded to four days for the men, with the Asda women’s doubled from one day to two. Thousands of fans are expected to line the roadside in the Wetherby area on stage two wshen the race will pass through Barwick, Scholes, Thorner, East Keswick and Harewood.
Stage one, on Thursday, May 3, is from Beverley to Doncaster, with stage two taking the riders from Barnsley to a summit finish - the first in the race’s history - on Ilkley’s famous Cow and Calf.
On Saturday the riders will begin in Richmond and head to a sprint finish on the seafront at Scarborough before the race is decided with a final leg from Halifax to the Headrow, in Leeds, finishing on the same spot which marked the start line of the 2014 Tour de France.
Stage two of the men’s race covers 149km (92.6 miles) and will follow the women who race over 124km (77.1 miles). The men’s peloton will start outside Barnsley’s Town Hall at 2.20pm and head towards Penistone (2.44pm). The first mountains classification points are up for grabs on Blacker Hill at 3.10pm.
The race will pass through Wentworth before an intermediate sprint is contested in Swinton. There is a second intermediate sprint in Scholes at 4.55pm and Harewood House (5.15pm) also makes an appearance prior to the classified Côte de Old Pool Bank climb at 5.33pm.
The route will then pass through Otley and Ilkley (5.37pm and 5.51pm respectively) before reaching the Cow and Calf at 5.57pm.
In an added twist, King of the Mountains points will also be on offer before the stage winner is crowned on top of this iconic Yorkshire climb.
The women will start in Barnsley at 9am and follow the exact same route as the men from Worsbrough at 9.10am. The riders will tackle the Côte de Blacker Hill at 9.17am and the first intermediate sprint in Swinton at 9.38am. The second sprint, in Scholes comes at 11.19am before the Old Pool Bank climb at 12.04pm. The winner of the race should be crowned at about 12.32pm.
A Leeds City Council spokesman said there will be rolling road closures and some road closures during the event to help keep riders and spectators safe.
“Leeds City Council is committed to ensuring the race is safely facilitated,” he said.
“Road closures will be managed by the Police Central Escort group on a rolling road closure basis to ensure minimal disruption. To help safely facilitate the race for both riders and spectators at key sporting stages of the race, however, some longer-term road closures may be required.”