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Tour de Yorkshire organisers expecting strongest ever field in 2019

Photo: PA

Tour de Yorkshire organisers are hoping for their strongest-ever line-up next year ahead of the county hosting the 2019 UCI Road World Championships four months later.

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity on Friday unveiled the route for the four-day Tour at the start of May, which will give riders their best opportunity of scouting some of the roads for the World Championships to follow in September.

Stage 2, from Barnsley to Bedale, will include the town centre circuit in Harrogate - which will feature on every event in the World Championships - and an intermediate sprint on what will be the Parliament Street finish line for the worlds.

"With the UCI Road World Championships also taking place in Yorkshire next year, we're expecting our strongest-ever field," Verity said.

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"This will be the only chance the riders get to sample the Harrogate circuit under race conditions before it, and the only chance they get to ride up Parliament Street against the usual flow of traffic."

As ever, organisers have included a number of new innovations for what will be the fifth edition of the race.

This year, the women's race will take place on the middle two days of the men's four-day race, meaning it will conclude on the Saturday and enable larger crowds to take in the day's double-header.

The men's race - newly upgraded by the UCI to 2.HC status, the highest outside the WorldTour - begins on Thursday May 2 with a 178.5-kilometre stage from Doncaster to Selby via the Yorkshire Wolds.

This year's route will be 617.5km. Credit: PA

The next two days will see the men and women's pelotons contest entirely identical routes, 132km from Barnsley to Bedale on the Friday and 132km from Bridlington to Scarborough via the North Yorkshire Moors on the Saturday.

The men's race concludes with a 175km stage from Halifax to Leeds through the Yorkshire Dales on the Sunday.

With the women this year using every inch of the men's route, it will make for the longest and hardest edition of the women's Tour de Yorkshire yet at 264km long with 3,200 metres of climbing.

"I'm proud that we're continuing to lead the way when it comes to promoting women's cycling," Verity added.

Belgian Greg Van Avermaet was the winner in 2018. Credit: PA

"Changing the start of the women's race from Thursday to Friday should guarantee greater exposure and the routes for the two stages are now exactly the same as the men's.

"That means there's over 1,000m more cumulative climbing than last year and we'll be in for some enthralling racing."

The final stage of the men's race is virtually identical to the one used last year - and scene of Stephane Rossetto's stunning solo victory - but that too is an innovation.

Organisers plan to use the route - starting in Halifax's Piece Hall and incorporating the punishing climbs of Goose Eye, Barden Moor, Park Rash, Greenhow Hill and Otley Chevin - regularly in future editions of the Tour to make it a signature stage of the event.

Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France and chief of ASO which also organises the Yorkshire race, said: "We want The Yorkshire Classic stage of the men's race to become one of the most anticipated dates on the professional cycling calendar."