As the euphoria of the Grand Depart subsides, thoughts have turned to the legacy the world’s biggest sporting event will leave behind.

Kirklees and Calderdale – and Yorkshire as a whole – must grasp the opportunities left in the rapidly-fading tyre prints of the cyclists.

Welcome to Yorkshire has wasted no time in seeking to organise a “world class” professional cycling race for May 2015, dubbed Tour of Yorkshire.

 

The tourism agency and Tour organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), backed by British Cycling, want a three-day festival of cycling from May 1-3.

The aim is for the race to be a 2.1 UCI Europe Tour event, guaranteeing the participation of some of the world’s leading riders.

Indeed, the organisers are strongly committed to creating “a breathtaking new race in a region made for cycling.”

Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, said: “Alongside the public interest for cycling, highlighted by the Grand Départ, Yorkshire boasts beautiful breathtaking scenery worthy of any of the cycling season’s major events.

“It therefore seems perfectly natural for Welcome to Yorkshire, British Cycling and ASO to continue working together in this new land of cycling.”

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, added: “Our county is a new cycling heartland of Europe and we look forward to welcoming back some of the world’s best riders in Yorkshire in less than 12 months’ time.”

Former Mayor of Kirklees and cycling enthusiast Martyn Bolt is also keen for there to be a lasting legacy.

“Hopefully the legacy will be more people on bikes more often and more tolerance to cyclists from other road users,” he said.

“If we can reduce the number of road accidents involving cyclists that will be a really worthwhile legacy.”

Clr Bolt, who watched the Tour from Blackley Bank or Cote de Greetland as it became known, called on local authorities to draw up cycling plans – and see them through.

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“In 15 years I have seen many local authority cycling plans but very few have delivered fully. Hopefully the Grand Depart will ensure they are delivered in future.”

Clr Bolt said the legacy should be more than the “Wimbledon effect” where people play tennis for a few weeks after the summer championships before leaving their racquets to gather dust.

“We don’t want bikes to be left locked in the shed,” he said. “We want to look at improving the greenways, more cycle training, more provision in schools and an encouragement for people to cycle to work.”

Clr Bolt and Mirfield cycle shop owner Dave Sowerby organised the first ever Huddersfield Criterium race around the town centre on Friday night.

It was hailed a big success and Clr Bolt said: “We’ve had some very good feedback and we want it to be an annual event.

“Dave and I spent nine months planning this so we now know how it’s done. If any other town, such as Dewsbury or Brighouse wants something similar we are here.

“After all Otley has been doing it for 29 years and there’s no reason we can’t do the same.”

 

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