The spa town of Harrogate has been chosen to host the finish of stage two of the Tour de Yorkshire on Saturday 29 April 2017.
Three years after playing host to the Tour de France, the world’s leading cyclists will once again be thrilling cycling fans as they race through the Harrogate district, fighting for victory on a course which will end in Harrogate’s town centre.
The finish line will be located on West Park, the stage one finish for the Tour de France in 2014, which provided spectators with drama, thrills and spills as Mark Cavendish dramatically crashed just yards from the finish line and Marcel Kittel took victory.
The announcement was made at a launch event in Bradford today (Friday 2 December) where Welcome to Yorkshire’s Chief Executive Gary Verity and Amaury Sport Organisation’s Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme unveiled the full route.
The third edition of the race takes place between 28-30 April 2017, with stage one (Friday 28 April) starting in Bridlington and ending in Scarborough; stage two (Saturday 29 April) starting in Tadcaster and ending in Harrogate; and stage three (Sunday 30 April), starting in Bradford and ending in Fox Valley in Sheffield.
The 122.5km stage two route will start on Tadcaster bridge and riders will cycle through some of Yorkshire’s finest market towns. The race will head through Boston Spa, Thorpe Arch, Wetherby and Kirk Deaton before entering the Harrogate district at North Deighton. Riders will continue on to Knaresborough, where the first intermediate sprint points are up for grabs. From here they will follow a route which will take them through Ripley towards Pateley Bridge. The day’s sole categorised climb comes on the fearsome Côte de Lofthouse before riders descend into Masham. It’s then on to Ripon for the second intermediate sprint and the race will skirt the stunning Fountains Abbey then continues on through Bishop Thornton, Birstwith and Hampsthwaite, before the action reaches its crescendo in Harrogate.
The Tour de Yorkshire’s women’s race will also be held on Saturday 29 April on exactly the same route as stage two, with the women starting in the morning and the men in the early afternoon.
Councillor Richard Cooper, Leader of Harrogate Borough Council said:
We are delighted to have been chosen to host the finish of stage two of the Tour de Yorkshire in 2017. The route passes through some of the district’s most beautiful and dramatic countryside and past historic towns and villages. It will undoubtedly be a real test for the riders and a visual feast for spectators – both those lining the route and those watching the action on television.
Harrogate has successfully hosted a number of major events which offer fantastic sporting entertainment, bring a real boost to the economy and encourage people to visit the district.
By hosting the event on the Saturday of the bank holiday weekend we will once again be able to create a celebratory festival atmosphere which worked so well for the Tour de France in 2014.
We look forward to welcoming back some of the world’s best riders and cycling fans and to staging an event which will be remembered for years to come.
Since its launch in 2015, the Tour de Yorkshire has proven to be a great success. In 2016, the race attracted over two million spectators to Yorkshire and was broadcast live across 177 countries attracting over 11.4 million global television viewers.
It is envisaged that hosting the stage finish in Harrogate will bring around 100,000 – 150,000 visitors to the district and benefit the local economy by around £5-7 million.
The council has already approved funding of £250,000 to cover the hosting of the event and event management costs.
As part of hosting the event, there will be a requirement to use sections of the Stray, an area of 200 acres (80 hectacres) of open grassland that wraps around Harrogate town centre, for a potential spectator hub/fan park and to accommodate the support and media vehicles that are needed to deliver the event.
As in 2014, when the town hosted the Tour de France stage one finish, the council has approached the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to apply for the temporary relaxation of some sections of the Stray Act for the limited areas needed for the Tour de Yorkshire.
A major condition of the permission is the council’s commitment to protecting the Stray, through appropriate ground protection measures, and to return the Stray to its normal condition following the event.
The council is currently holding a 12 week public consultation asking whether the authority should seek to amend the Stray Act 1985, to increase the opportunity to hold more events of more variety throughout the year. The consultation finishes on Monday 6 February 2017, and is available to complete at https://www.harrogate.gov.uk/strayact.
Copies of the consultation are also available from the council’s Crescent Gardens offices in Harrogate.
Councillor Richard Cooper said:
Hosting an event such as the Tour de Yorkshire really is a feather in the cap for Harrogate and puts our district on the global stage. However, because such an event cannot currently be held within the terms of the Stray Act, we have to go through a hugely bureaucratic process to secure temporary exemption to host such events.
The Department of Communities and Local Government has made it clear that they will not entertain such requests on an on-going basis. We are therefore consulting on whether to revise the act to allow us to have greater control over the events which can be held on the Stray and are keen to hear people’s views on the issue.
The council will be engaging with the local business community for their views on the Tour de Yorkshire to ensure that the benefits to the town are maximised and any disruption is minimised.
Harrogate Borough Council will be working closely with North Yorkshire County Council and other partner organisations – including the event organisers, district councils and the emergency services – on a highways operation to facilitate the race while maintaining vital access for local residents, visitors and businesses. Rolling road closures lasting no more than an hour, will take place on the majority of the route to ensure the safety of riders and spectators. However, longer road closures will be required at the start and finish locations, and along some of the climbs.
Michael Newby, Director of Visit Harrogate said:
Today’s announcement that we will be a host finish on the Saturday of the Tour is fantastic news for Harrogate, not only the town but the whole district. We are looking forward to celebrating this important event which will bring in visitors from far and near and so provide a boost to our local economy. Additionally, we cannot ignore the national and international coverage which will be incredibly valuable in promoting the district to potential visitors to the area once the Tour is over.