Tour de Yorkshire bosses open up talks over long-term deal to keep event running

Welcome To Yorkshire bosses have opened talks about signing a new long term deal to keep staging the 'Tour de Yorkshire'.

The professional cycle race, which followed on from the success of when the Tour de France held stages in Yorkshire in 2014, has become one of the biggest events on the sport's schedule.

This year's event – including the women's two day race – was supposed to take place at the end of April – but has been postponed due to the coronavirus crisis.

If the race is rescheduled it will be the last one to take place under the terms of the current contract between WTY and partners British Cycling and the Amaury Sport Organisation, who organise the Tour de France.

The race is worth up to £10m to the Yorkshire economy – and WTY chiefs are now hoping to secure a new five-year deal to continue hosting its flagship event.

WTY chief executive James Mason said: "This would have been my first Tour de Yorkshire as CEO of the organisation, so to make the decision to postpone it wasn't easy. However we believe it is the right thing to have done and the most responsible course of action to call it earlier than delaying.

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"Only weeks prior to the postponement we had started early and positive conversations with Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) about a new, multi-year contract as the cycle race is so important to the region and the Yorkshire economy.

"In fact it is more than a cycle race. It celebrates Yorkshire's geography, culture, food and drink, personality, philosophies and acts as a social vehicle to bring communities together. There is a huge amount of support for the Tour and we will miss it this April/May.

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"As such it is our aim to agree an extension, but firstly we want this year's postponed race to be delivered so we need to work hard with ASO and British Cycling to agree a date that works within the racing calendar and what best suits the tourism sector in Yorkshire.

"Bear in mind many other sports, festivals, events etc are trying to do the same, so it won't be easy."

Meanwhile, France Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu has revealed this summer's Tour de France could still go ahead behind closed doors.

The iconic race is scheduled to start on June 27 and could do so without fans being allowed to attend.

Maracineanu said: "We have (imposed spectator bans) for other competitions before, but there's a time for everything. We have a more urgent fight, it's still too early to decide (to go ahead). Let's put all our effort into climbing that mountain, before tackling the next one."

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