â€‹A guide to the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire
The fourth rendition of Yorkshire's most prestigious bike race starts this Thursday - welcoming an eclectic mix of World Tour, Continental and domestic riders - ready to tackle the characteristically lumpy Yorkshire roads.
What is the Tour de Yorkshire?
Born from a collaboration between two of the most enthusiastic and ambitious minds in cycling - charismatic Christian Prudhomme, director of ASO (organising body of the Tour de France), and Sir Gary Verity, cycling fan and director of Welcome to Yorkshire - the Tour de Yorkshire extends the legacy of the phenomenally successful TdF Grand Depart that came to the county back in 2014. The nation's second biggest stage race serves as a glorious exposition for British fans who are not often treated to grand and flamboyant cycling events Ã la the Tour de France.
Why is it so great?
The race may not be rich in history, but it certainly is not poor in fan representation - the locals decorating every inch of the route with patriotic bunting and summer deck chairs, whatever the weather.
Testament to the race's charm, both riders and organisers alike have praised the region for its race-defining terrain and adoring roadside spectators. Thomas Voeckler - the 2016 champion - describes the race glowingly, "You cannot compare the Tour de Yorkshire to any other race."
The 2018 edition is building on the success of recent years and adding a fourth day to its usual three-day run time - not to mention an extra day for the pro women, bumping their race up from a single day to a testy two stage affair.
Where will the 2018 edition visit?
Both the women's and men's races will ride almost identical roads for the first two stages, the only difference being that the women race over shorter distances. Stage one travels from Beverly to Doncaster - 182km for the men and 133km for the women - featuring only one categorised climb across the route, making it a perfect stage for the sprinters to fight for.
From Doncaster, the race will travel west to Barnsley, the start town of stage two. 128km/149km (women/men) and a 1.8km dash up the 8.2% Cow and Calf climb to finish will no doubt play host to leg-breaking showdowns in both the men's and women's events.
With the women's race wrapped up the day before, stage three takes the pro men 184km from Richmond to Scarborough and is likely to see the sprinters come to the fore once again. The fourth and final stage will run from Halifax to Leeds - featuring an array of categorised and uncategorised climbs that may turn some legs to jelly before a final run-in to the centre of Leeds.
Who should we look out for?
In the men's field, current Olympic champions, Commonwealth medallists and former world champions all grace the start line. Mark Cavendish makes his return to racing, as does defending champion Serge Pauwels, while home grown youth - Harry Tanfield, Tom Pidcock and Gabriel Cullaigh - will attempt to show the travelling World Tour pros just what it means to possess 'true Yorkshire grit'.
The women's field challenges the men's in terms of star-studded quality. 2016 champion Kirsten Wild returns to animate the sprints with a strong Wiggle High5 team, including home favourite Katie Archibald. The reigning world champion Chantal Blaak leads the team of reigning Tour de Yorkshire champion Lizzie Deignan who is pregnant with her first child, this year swapping the bike for the commentary box.
Representing British youth in the women's field this year is the Trek-Drops team. The youthful squad boasts a breath-taking jersey and some stunning kit from Trek and Bontrager, wrapped in the iconic team colour of 'Miami Green'. Abby-mae Parkinson and Eva Buurman will spearhead this team, so look out for these springy climbers atop stage two's summit finish in Ilkley.
Channel your favourite pro cyclists of the men's and women's pelotons through the world-beating bikes they ride. We've got a great range in stock so you're sure to find something to whet your appetite.
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