The Tour de Yorkshire is whizzing through our region once again from Friday 28 to Friday 30 May. And while the event is only in its third year, the impact it’s having on the sport of cycling in these parts is undeniable.
With the women’s race now positioned at the heart of the three-day spectacle, the rise in ladies taking to two wheels is particularly impressive: no fewer than 18,000 more riders in Yorkshire alone since 2015, according to British Cycling.
Among those leading the way are the women of the Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club, which has seen its membership numbers soar by 50% over the same period.
Men are still four times more likely to get out on their bikes as women but things are changing and among those leading the way are the women of the Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club, which has seen its membership numbers soar by 50% over the same period.
“Ladies are just getting more interested in cycling altogether,” says club co-founder Jude Worrall. “And it’s just great because people are getting braver and more confident about getting out on the roads as well.”
Across the UK, British Cycling has set a target of growing women’s cycling by one million riders between 2013 and 2020, and it’s confident it’s at least halfway to achieving its target.
For the Yorkshire Lass group, the social aspect of cycling is just as important as the sporting side.
“I can cycle with my husband if I want to,” explains one member. “But it’s nicer to get out with a group of ladies and make some friends at the same time.”
That’s not to say these periodic pedallers aren’t inspired by the world-class riders who’ll take to the routes they frequent on Saturday 29 May.
“It’s just amazing to see them all come through and the speed that they come through,” says co-founder, Kate Horsfall. “It’s amazing.”
Among those leading the charge will be another Yorkshire lass - Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Deignan, who hails from Otley. She hopes the Tour continues to inspire women to get on the saddle.
“I hope that people on the side of the road who have maybe got a little itch to give it a go do get that extra push to try it,” Deignan tells ITV News. “We all started somewhere. When I was 15 and I started there wasn’t anyone to train with, whereas when I’m home now cycling there’s so many women on the road.”
If you want to see some of the fastest women in the world on the road, the Tour starts on Saturday 29 at 9:10am in Tadcaster and is scheduled to finish in Harrogate at 12:18pm.