Is anyone else contemplating the future shape and development of the Tour de Yorkshire? Having had the pleasure of following this excellent race over three varied and fascinating days, the most interesting news is perhaps that Moreno Hofland, Steven Kruijswijk, Maarten Tjallingii and Robert Wagner are in the Lotto Jumbo team for the Giro d’Italia, which we all know follows the French-flavoured tour of the North by a week.
This brief three-day pounding for the mix of World Tour, Pro-Continental, and local riders truly represented a fearsome test, with its blend of remorseless undulation, narrow roads, plus a sprint circuit in York. It is hard to see how more variety could be packed into a single-county experience.
There is always a bit of a let-down when the great Liege-Bastogne-Liege is finished, a feeling that the “real” cycle-racing season is over. The grand tours are wonderful, in their own way, of course, but for bumpy, bloody-minded, one-on-one combat over tough terrain in unpredictable weather, the Classics are the connoisseur’s choice. Yes, we love the glamour of the shining lycra passing through the radiant fields of sunflowers, but rain, muck and yet another, leg-wrenching climb is the kind of experience we in the UK can empathise with. We are those small groups of shattered riders struggling home.
And that is what the Tour de Yorkshire was like too. OK, not so much of the muck – almost the entire population of the county, it seemed, had been out tidying up, and decorating the place for the visitors, but in lots of ways the race was like an Ardennes classic. The faces of the dropped riders told the tale – just as punished as those who survived the great Paris Roubaix. You had better be able to ride a bike up hills if you take on the Tour de Yorkshire, because, classified climbs or not, they are everywhere.
So, back to the Giro. It is widely reckoned to be tougher than the Tour de France because there is more climbing. Apart from the famous and legendary climbs, the roads of Italy are rarely at the same altitude for long. Just like Yorkshire, then.
Maybe the future of the Tour de Yorkshire is heralded by the plans of the Lotto Jumbo team. It might just be the perfect bridge between the one-day classics and the challenges of the Giro. The selection of the four riders who proved themselves “oop North” by the Dutch Lotto team might just be an indication of this race’s future. And they won their first stage of the year.
One and a half million people turned out to support and watch the Yorkshire race. Dare we hope that next year even more of the world tour teams will test out their Giro teams? I really hope so, but I’ll be back next year whether it is to see a classic replica or a pre-Giro. Yorkshire can do both.