The stage towns have been announced, so in the spirit of speculation we’ve had a go at piecing together a potential route for the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire
The six stage towns for the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire have been announced, but the exact routes the stages will take won’t be known until later this year.
At the press conference to announce the host towns, Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, took care not to give any clues, qualifying each host as he spoke about it as being either a start or a finish.
What’s certain though is that the stage towns are intriguing, and they provide opportunities for a spectacular race in terms of scenery and action.
Fox Valley is a new retail park in the Don Valley just north of Sheffield. It’s surrounded by hills, hundreds of them; some only known to local cyclists, but others known to the Tour de France, and the organisers of the Tour, ASO, are joint organisers of the Tour de Yorkshire.
A stage from Bradford to Fox Valley could use much of the 2014 Tour de France stage two route. That might mean the Cragg Vale, Ripponden Bank and Holme Moss climbs, plus the intriguing prospect of the riders facing the very steep and very narrow Ewden and Bolsterstone climbs just before a finish in Fox Valley.
At the press conference in Leeds, Sir Gary referred to the key roll the climbs just west of Fox Valley played on stage two of the 2014 Tour de France, which finished in Sheffield. He also underlined the fact that the stage winner, Vincenzo Nibali, went on to win the Tour overall.
A similar stage could start in Harrogate, but rumour has it that although the different road races in the 2019 World Championships will start in different places, Harrogate will host the finish of them all.
So in our opinion, and it is only an opinion, that would make Harrogate a likely choice for a stage finish in the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire.
If so it makes sense to have the women’s race finish there on April 29. That would give any potential 2019 Worlds road race competitors a taste of the terrain.
The start of that stage could be on the east coast, the two major resorts there, Bridlington and Scarborough, have both been named as stage towns for the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire.
The other option would be a start in relatively nearby Tadcaster, then give the riders a journey up the Wharfe Valley, where they could begin a big loop in the Yorkshire Dales and finish in Harrogate.
That option would leave us a stage between the two coastal towns, with the prospect of an exciting and testing stage route through the Yorkshire Wolds and North Yorkshire Moors. The latter provided a fascinating and spectacular final stage in the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire.
So our guess for the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire route, given that nothing is known for certain at this stage, would be:
Stage 1 – Bridlington to Scarborough, or vice versa
Stage 2 – Tadcaster to Harrogate
Stage 3 – Bradford to Sheffield (Fox Valley)
Of course this is all conjecture. We will know for certain what the stage routes are in December 2016, but there is plenty to talk about until then, and plenty of brilliant racing to look forward to on the long weekend of Friday April 28 to Sunday April 30, 2017.