Calderdale is gearing up for another sensational summer of cycling after it was announced the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire would be coming through the district.
The race, a direct legacy of the 2014 Yorkshire Grand Départ, will take place on May 1, 2 and 3, passing through Hebden Royd during stage three on May 3.
The peloton starts in Wakefield on the final day before eventually picking up the Grand Départ route in reverse, racing to Ripponden and Cragg Vale – this time going down the country’s longest continual descent.
The riders will then make their way to Hebden Bridge, Oxenhope and through Haworth before heading for the finish line in Roundhay Park in Leeds.
Calderdale Council’s Leader, Coun Stephen Baines said: “We’re delighted that we will be playing host to the Tour de Yorkshire in May.
“Only last week we heard that the Tour de France brought an extra £12.5 million to Calderdale and there’s a real opportunity now for us to build on that success.
“As you’d expect, we’ll work to deliver our part in this internationally important sporting event with minimal cost and disruption.
“We hope and expect that the buzz and excitement experienced last summer can come to Calderdale again, and for cycling fans and local businesses we can boost the reputation of the region for sport and tourism.”
The Mayor of Hebden Royd, Jonathan Timbers said: “It’s absolutely fantastic. I’m sure the community’s response will be fantastic.
“There’s a really strong community in Hebden Royd. each area is quite different - Mytholmroyd, Cragg Vale and Hebden Bridge all have their own response and all have individual identities.
“There was a huge amount of effort that went in last year to celebrate the Tour de France.
“There’s a particularly interesting arts and volunteer sector in the area and I’m sure they will have an influence on what happens on the day.
“We’ve got on of the longest hills which is a testing route to cycle.
“The views are fantastic and cycling is a part of the way of life for many people in the area.”
Sharon Le Corre, from the Cragg Vale Community Association, which helped plan last year’s Tour de France celebrations in the area, said: “When I heard the details of the Tour de Yorkshire races I was over the moon that Cragg Vale has been chosen once again to be part of a professional cycling race.
“They’ll be coming down it this time which will be tricky as there quite a few bends on the lower half where they’ll be really moving at speed.
“But if it’s anything like last year it will be a great event to watch and will bring the community together again.
“We’re already busy planning for a Summer of Fun and this will be the icing on the cake.”
The Tour will coincide with a local brewery beer and cider festival in Hebden Bridge which has already been planned for that day.
Corinne Kielty, from the Le Tour Ripponden group, said: “Ripponden is thrilled to have another pro level cycling race come through the village.
“That Calderdale has been blessed with the Tour de Yorkshire shows how good the support is locally.
“The entire village come out in July to cheer the teams on and it will be great to see the riders reverse the Tour de France route and descent Ripponden Bank and climb up Rochdale Road towards the top of Cragg Vale.
“We hope the businesses and community will come together once again to make it a truly exciting weekend.“
Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said; “Before the Grand Départ had even finished people all across Yorkshire were asking when we can have more cycling!
“The Tour de Yorkshire will bring back many of the world’s top cycling teams and there will be an opportunity for ordinary people to ride the same roads on the same day in the sportive.
“And this is a free event to watch so there is an opportunity for everyone in the county to be part of Tour de Yorkshire in one way or another.”
The race will be shown live on television in the UK and across Europe and a huge television audience is expected, once again shining a spotlight on Yorkshire.
The Tour de Yorkshire will be annual event and the organiser hope it will grow year on year to be one of the biggest events in the cycling calendar and position Yorkshire as the heartland of cycling in Europe.
Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France at A.S.O., said; “After the grandest of Grand Départs of the Tour de France, we were keen to return to Yorkshire. With its stunning landscapes, iconic cities and tough climbs, Yorkshire offers all the ingredients needed for a great cycling race.
“The welcome we received in Yorkshire in July 2014 was simply spectacular and I am very much looking forward to returning there in May for the Tour de Yorkshire”.
Welcome to Yorkshire is also organising a month long Tour de Yorkshire Festival, to showcase the country’s rich and diverse cultural offering. The Yorkshire Festival, which accompanied the Tour de France Grand Depart, will be held in 2016.