Eve of Tour –
The Tour de Yorkshire is a UCI 2.1 Europe Tour international cycle race. The race covered 711KM over four stages, visiting all corners of the beautiful Yorkshire countryside, with the participation of 18 professional teams and 144 riders. Yorkshire is the ideal place to host an exciting cycling competition because its coaster roads, beautiful landscape, and pretty towns, create a fantastic scenery. The place chosen to host the finish of the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire could not have been different than Leeds, a city certainly worthy of this right thanks to its amenities and living cycling tradition.
Leeds reaffirms itself as one of the referent points in the agenda of the international cycling community. After hosting the departure of the grandest ever Grand Départ of the Tour de France in 2014, and many others big cycling events such as the Tour de Yorkshire.
Three years after its inception the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) promoted road Cycling race in Yorkshire has grown to become one of cycling’s best supported and most intriguing races.
Large crowds gathered at the Leeds city Millennium square to celebrate the opening ceremony of the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire. The Eve of the Tour show, which is a free event and open to the public, started at 6pm on Wednesday 2nd May 2018.
The opening ceremony featured performances by Legendary Yorkshire DJ and BBC Radio Leeds presenter Stephanie Hirst, Leeds’ band The Dunwells and the West Yorkshire Rock Choir.
The event also featured a presentation of stars of the cycling world taking part in the race such as defending Champion Serge Pauwels, who received loud cheers when he was introduced. He said ‘’ It is always good to be here, hopefully I get to win again”, Olympic Champion Greg Van Avermaet, and Mark Cavendish.
Yorkshire cycling legends Brian Robinson, Denise Burton-Cole and Barry Hoban were among the Tour de Yorkshire ambassadors who appeared on stage.
This year’s event promises to be eventful with the tour running for 4 days, beginning on Thursday 3rd May and ends on Sunday 6th May, 2018.
Last day of tour –
As the name suggests, the tour was held all over Yorkshire across the 4 days. The stages covered routes from Beverley to Doncaster, Barnsley to Ilkley, Richmond to Scarborough and lastly, Halifax to Leeds!
We have Melina and Nadia covering the finishing race held at our very own Leeds town hall and here are their accounts of the exciting day:
I remember standing at the exact same spot 4 years ago for the flag off for Le Tour de France which put Leeds on the world map of cycling. Today’s rousing responses was nowhere short, if not more, of pride and passion.
Prior to this, I knew very little of the cycling world and I was a little apprehensive of feeling left out of the fun because I couldn’t fully relate to their excitement. My worries were thrown out of the window the moment I stepped into the city. The atmosphere was absolutely buzzing with people all over Yorkshire. Everyone is cheering their hearts out and it’s this incredible support that makes Tour De Yorkshire such a special race.
The 189.5 km stage from Halifax to Leeds had been described as the ‘Yorkshire Terrier’ by race organisers with the challenge to take in some of Yorkshire’s toughest climbs. As described by the official website of Craven District in the Yorkshire Dales, this stage of the 2018 race began at the Piece Hall in Halifax. It was followed by six categorised climbs (although the announcer commented that it was more like 18 climbs!) starting on the Côte de Hebden Bridge. The race headed up the cobbled Main Street in Haworth before dropping into Goose Eye for the next punishing ascent.
Crossing from Brontë Country into Craven, the route headed through Skipton and the next climb loomed on Barden Moor. The action then headed into the Dales before the riders contested the first intermediate sprint in view of Kilnsey Crag.
The Côte de Park Rash would no doubt cement its place in Tour de Yorkshire folklore as the peloton grind their way up it, and the route continued on to Masham and then into Nidderdale before making a return to the formidable Côte de Greenhow Hill for the first time since 2016.
The undulating terrain never relented and shortly after passing through Otley the next categorised climb was on the cards at Otley Chevin. If that wasn’t enough, the Côte de Black Hill Road must also be crested before the race sweeps into Leeds and reaches a rip-roaring conclusion on The Headrow – on exactly the same spot as where the Tour de France started in 2014 and that was exactly where Melina and I were eagerly waiting!
Prior to the main races, there were other cyclists cycling in as well as children of Leeds on their bikes enjoying the parade!
After a few hours of waiting and suspenses (the competition was tight!), we could hear the roaring cheers from miles away, signalling that the cyclists were closing in on Leeds. As they cycled into Leeds city centre, the crowds grew crazier and louder with every countdown the announcer made. Melina and I was standing right at the finishing line and we had a clear view of this victorious entrance!
Stephane Rossetto from France won the 4th stage from Halifax to Leeds by a whopping 34 seconds after riding the final 120 km on his own. The runner ups were Greg Van Avermaet from Belgium, Ian Bibby from Great Britain, Edward Dunbar from Ireland and Eduard Prades Reverter from Spain.
There were winners recognising the best mountain climbs and the best team in stage 4 as well! Other categories of winners are for the blue, green, red and grey jerseys and even the black sheep award!
Now for the moment that everyone has been waiting for the past 4 days, who will win Le Tour de Yorkshire 2018? The suspense was over with the announcement of Olympic cyclist Greg Van Avermaet taking home the winning trophy! In second place is Eduard Prades Reverter and in third, Serge Pauwels.
Overall winner Greg Van Avermaet was quoted in The Guardian interview dedicating his victory to Andy Rihs, the BMC team owner who died last month. He said, “I think we all had it in mind to win a race for him.
Tomorrow is his funeral. He was a big boss for us, a big supporter for many years at BMC. The work the team did was incredible and we all had him in mind and it was really great I could finish it off.
Thank you to Andy, thank you to the team. It’s so great I can win this and it’s great I can have Yorkshire on my palmarès.”
Leeds reaffirms itself as one of the referent points in the agenda of the international cycling community. As Gary Verity, Welcome to Yorkshire’s CEO and the man heralded as bringing the Tour de France to Yorkshire, puts it:
“Leeds is well on its way to becoming a sports hub for England, if not beyond!”
This Sunday was definitely an exciting and important day! Do you know what I love the most about this type of event? It brings all kinds of people together! The city centre of Leeds was completely transformed and filled with so many people excited about the race, everyone was waving flags and cheering. The streets were decorated with blue and yellow flags hanging on strings and there was an impressive structure for the race throughout the route in Leeds together with the stage with the podiums and a whole leisure structure at the Millennium square.
This is what excites me the most, it’s an open event on the streets and accessible with a sign language translator in the award stage and accessible seating area. It brought everyone together despite age and differences cheering and being excited about sports and Yorkshire. I’m so happy I was a part of it! I’ve always loved cycling but I’ve never attended any event like this and how exciting it was! They had screens where we could watch the riders coming and it was very tense as we watched Stephane Rossetto leading the race by himself. His body moved with difficulty at that point, you could see his face smiling and finding strength. He was further from the others by his own and everyone was impressed about it! It was amazing to feel that energy of excitement, tension and support from the crowd that gathered at the Leeds city centre.
I was very surprised how the race was reverberating achieving millions of spectators. Not only was Leeds full of people but all the previous lands they broadcasted as well. You could see cameras everywhere, reporters and even a helicopter fled by. It was really special to see this city that has been my home in the spotlight like that bringing so much pride and joy to everyone living here.
The vibrant energy never stopped, from the general race, to the race they did for the children the sponsors coming by, till the final moment of the professionals crossing the line. People spent the whole afternoon under the bright sun vibrating and only left after the last award in the podium was given and the event was declared to be finished. The Yorkshire community was so proud of it all. As they said millions have gathered to watch it! At the end Gary Verity thanked everyone and closed the ceremony saying:
“We know that Yorkshire is one of the most special places in the world and if you ever doubted that you saw the evidence of it this weekend!”
I bet it must have been a beautiful journey to all the participants to cycle in all the scenic lands of Yorkshire. I’m always impressed by the charm of all the nature in this land. They looked full of joy despite how tired their bodies were. You could see Stephane Rossetto walking slowly but extremely happy to the stage the 4 times he went up, because he was awarded 4 times. In his last one he threw his flower bouquet to the audience in our direction and I almost caught it! Oh well, maybe next time!
Like all the participants Nadia and I also crossed the finish line with our foam fingers! As soon as we got in the event we got flags, hats and accessories because there’s no way to not get in the mood!
After the end of the race I went to the Millenium square where they had a structure throughout the whole event called the Village. You could get drinks and food, make donations and learn more about cycling and Yorkshire. They were also giving free samples of different sport stuff and there was a stage with live music.
It was a lovely and special day to all the lucky ones that were in Leeds on this sunny Sunday.