How Otley supported Tour de France bid

Ilkley Gazette: The packed crowds at the 2012 Otley race The packed crowds at the 2012 Otley race

The race director of the annual Otley Cycle Races is thrilled by the news that the Tour de France is going to start in Leeds in 2014.

And now Giles Pidcock is working on plans to make Otley a focal point for the celebrations that are planned to surround the staging of the world’s greatest cycle race in Yorkshire for the first time..

The date of the 2014 Otley race has been moved to Wednesday July 9 - just three days after the second of the two stages of the Tour de France that are planned for Yorkshire.

Pidcock said: “This is absolutely wonderful news. The Welcome to Yorkshire team who put together the bid to stage the Tour de France came to Otley for our race this year and were ‘blown away’ by the scale of the event.

“I am sure the sheer size of the crowds helped them in their final push to win the right to stage the event ahead of Edinburgh and Florence.”

He added: “We are thrilled that our race is now going to be promoted by Welcome to Yorkshire as one of the county’s big sporting event.”

Looking forward to the arrival of the world’s top riders for the Tour de France, Pidcock added: “There is going to be massive interest in cycling in 2014.” And he joked:”The centre of Leeds will be a no go area for anybody not wearing lycra.”

The history-making win by Bradley Wiggins in this year’s Tour de France and the success of the Olympic cycling events, where Otley’s Lizzie Armitstead memor- ably one Britain’s first medal of the games when she was second in the women’s road race, have raised the profile of the sport to unprecedented heights.

Like so many involved in cycling Pidcock is aware of the need to build on the huge upswell of interest.

“What has happened this year should provide a lasting legacy which has considerable health benefits,” he said.

As well a re-positioning the Otley races in 2014, there will also be a new date next year.

Instead of being held on the nearest Wednesday to the longest day, they will be held on Wednesday, July 3.

It is linked to the restructuring of the domestic calendar by British Cycling and should add to the star quality of an event which has attracted the likes of Wiggins and Mark Cavendish in the past.

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