The eyes of the world will be on Doncaster and the Dearne Valley when the Tour de Yorkshire rolls in to town later this spring.
A global sporting event, the cycle race will see some of the world’s top riders race wheel-to-wheel in the streets in front of tens of thousands of spectators and millions more watching live on TV.
The event organisers hosted a special roadshow in Doncaster to give the wider community everything they need to know about the race. Community reporter Lee Peace was at the event.
The Tour de Yorkshire undoubtedly presents Doncaster with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sell itself to the rest of the world.
Speak to anyone involved and they are keen to emphasise that the race will most likely be the most-high profile event ever staged in the town.
Tour co-organisers Welcome to Yorkshire hosted a conference at the Earl of Doncaster Hotel last Wednesday to explain to an audience of more than 100 representatives from businesses, community groups and other organisations just how important the event will be to the town.
Details as to how the event will unfold on the day were also revealed for the first time.
More than 1.5m people are expected to visit the county to watch the event, millions more will watch it on TV in more than 150 countries and it is predicted to boost Yorkshire’s economy by around £50 million. Across digital media platforms, such as websites and social media, the race is predicted to reach around 60m people across the world. Cycling fans are also expected to spend in excess of £20m on accommodation and around £30m on items such as food, drink, souvenirs and transport.
These astounding figures are based on the performance analysis from last year’s inaugural Tour de Yorkshire and are expected to be replicated - or even improved upon - at this year’s event.
Peter Dodd, marketing manager for WTY, told the roadshow: “This is the largest sporting event that will happen in the UK this year. It is our World Cup Final, it is our Commonwealth Games or Olympics, it is a huge international event.
“Doncaster will be the place to be on race day and it is your opportunity to showcase to the rest of the world how good it is here. We want a party atmosphere and want to inspire the next generation of cyclists.”
The Tour will roll into Doncaster on Saturday, April 30, and will see some of the biggest names in cycling, including Olympic hero Sir Bradley Wiggins, saddle up for a day’s racing. The town will host Stage Two of the three-day event and welcomes 18 teams of eight riders on a 135.5km race from Otley.
Cyclists will take in picturesque Hooton Pagnell, before a sprint point at Warmsworth and a ‘King/Queen of the Mountain’ race - given to the best climber - at 11th century Conisbrough Castle. The peloton will then head towards Tickhill and Bawtry before racing along the perimeter of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, past Doncaster Racecourse and onto a sprint finish on South Parade.
Stage Two also marks an important milestone as the women’s race will be held on the same route as the men’s race. The women’s race will start in the morning, followed by the men’s in early afternoon.
Details of how Doncaster plans to celebrate on the day were also revealed for the first time at the roadshow.
Bennetthorpe will be closed all day as riders race along and onto the finish line on South Parade.
Organisers said they want to create “one big party” and there will be entertainment all day to add to the carnival atmosphere.
Representatives from the Yorkshire Festival - which organises events to promote the county - are in discussion with race organisers to bring a touch of flair to proceedings. Visitors can expect music and public artwork, all with a cycling theme.
There will also be fan zones with huge TV screens showing the race as it unfolds and stalls selling food, drink and promoting cycling in the town are expected. Community groups, residents and business owners are welcome to come forward with their ideas to help the day go with a swing.
Members of the public are also invited to enter a competition to create huge pieces of land art across the route. People are being encouraged to turn fields, hills, market squares and even car parks into unique works of art that celebrate their community. Visit firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition, hundreds of journalists from across the world are set to descend on the town, and a helicopter will fly overhead to capture birdseye views of the action. Race ambassadors are to mix with fans, including five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault.
Restaurants, hotels, cafes, pubs and other businesses are urged to think about how they can support the race and capitalise on what is expected to be a huge money-spinner as hundreds of thousands of spectators will need accommodating.
A study by council chiefs in Scarborough - which hosted part of the tour last year - found it generated around £1m for their local economy in a single day. Cash-strapped council chiefs in Doncaster will be hoping for a similar return.
Jo Miller, chief executive of Doncaster Council, said: “Doncaster has the best finishing spot in the whole event. This is a chance to showcase to the world what we are about. I want to see street parties, I want to see Doncaster absolutely smashing it.”
Martin Maltby, president of Doncaster Wheelers Cycling Club, who is also organising the annual Doncaster Cycle Festival on June 19, said: “This will be the biggest cycling event I have seen locally in my lifetime.
“People at the cycling clubs and the winder community are extremely excited. The anticipation is rising all the time and we can’t want for it to be here.”
For more information visit http://letour.yorkshire.com/