This year’s Tour de Yorkshire, longer and harder than any previously, will be criss-crossing the diocese on three of its four day-long stages this May bank holiday from May 3rd to May 6th.
This year's four day festival of cycling visits all five Episcopal Areas at least once. Day Two (Friday May 4th) will visit Wakefield, Leeds, Ripon and Bradford Episcopal Areas. Day Three (Saturday May 5th) will start in Ripon Episcopal Area beofre heading east and out of the diocese fo Scarborough. But on the final Day Four, (Sunday May 6th) the tour will start at Halifax (Huddersfield EA), sweep through Bradford Episcopal Area and into Ripon Episcopal Area before returning to Leeds Episcopal Area for the final showdown.
The 2018 Tour is expected to attract a strong field of professional teams, with riders like Mark Cavendish who attended the launch press conference and is hoping to ride for the Dimension Data team again.
The four days of racing will be televised live to a global audience, and for the first time there will be a two day international Women’s race with the second day (Friday May 4th) coming through our diocese with a hilltop finish at the Cow and Calf rocks outside Ilkley.
Church buildings have always featured strongly in TV coverage of the race in the past, their soaring towers or spires presenting iconic points of orientation for the riders and for the film crews as the race evolves. Several churches are already planning to open their doors to visitors, put out the bunting and cheer the riders as they pedal past – please let us know your plans at (firstname.lastname@example.org}
Rod Ismay of York Diocese has developed a web page with details of each church on this year's route - Find out if your church is enroute here
The Tour de Yorkshire is now regarded as one of the best supported and most colourful races on the world cycling calendar, with giant land art projects being dotted along the route and entire streets lined with bikes, banners and bunting. Welcome to Yorkshire has launched Land Art and Best Dressed competitions to crown communities who go above and beyond the call of duty to showcase their area. They are asking people to share their plans with them to benefit from the global TV coverage during the race between 3-6 May.
Days two, three and four will be of the main interest in the Anglican Diocese of Leeds.
On Day Two, Friday May 4, the peloton will start outside Barnsley’s impressive Town Hall and will go through two or three of our parishes before heading to Penistone . But it then re-enters the Diocese of Leeds for the first time at South Elmshall coming north through Pontefract and on through Castleford , Swillington and Garforth. It continues north to Barwick in Elmet and on through Hareweood, Pool (and the classified Côte de Old Pool Bank climb), Otley and Ilkley to finish with the race’s first-ever summit finish on the Cow and Calf.
On Day Three, Saturday May 5, the riders will roll out of Richmond’s cobbled market place and head to Catterick Garrison before the start flag is lowered. They’ll then traverse Wensleydale and continue in an easterly direction at Leyburn, on to Morton on Swale where the first intermediate sprint will be fought out. The riders then wave goodbye to the Anglican Diocese of Leeds as they swoop into York diocese and Northallerton and Thirsk . From there they climb Sutton Bank and onto the North York Moors before the stage finishes in Scarborough.
This year for the first time there is a fourth day of riding , Sunday May 6, entirely in the Diocese of Leeds and covering four of our Episcopal Areas, Huddersfield, Bradford, Ripon and then Leeds with the finish on the Headrow.
The Piece Hall in Halifax provides a spectacular location for the start of this decisive stage and the first of six categorised climbs comes on the Côte de Hebden Bridge. The race will head up the cobbled Main Street in Haworth before crossing from Brontë Country into Craven. The route heads through Skipton and the next climb is looming on Barden Moor. The action will then head into the Dales before the riders contest the first intermediate sprint in view of Kilnsey Crag. From there the route continues through the Dales to Middleham before turning south and through Masham and then into Nidderdale before making a return to the formidable Côte de Greenhow Hill for the first time since 2016. The undulating terrain never relents and shortly after passing through Otley the next categorised climb is at Otley Chevin. Continuing towards Leeds the race will head towards Kirkstall and Armley before a rip-roaring conclusion on The Headrow – on exactly the same spot as where the Tour de France started in 2014.