The 2017 Tour de Yorkshire route has been announced and next year's race promises to be the most exciting and toughest edition yet.
The third edition of the race, a legacy event of the 2014 Tour de France, will begin on April 28 with a 173km stage from Bridlington to Scarborough. A day later, the peloton will tackle a 122.5km stage from Tadcaster to Harrogate, on the same route as the Asda Women's Tour de Yorkshire event run on the same day.
Riders will then have to negotiate what has been described as the toughest stage in the race's history on the Sunday, in what promises to be a thrilling and action-packed finale to the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire during a 194.5km stage from Bradford to Fox Valley, Sheffield.
Stage One: Bridlington to Scarborough (173km)
Stage one begins on the east coast of the county in Bridlington, before heading inland for the first intermediate sprint of the race in Pocklington.
Climbs up the Côte de Garrowby Hill and Goathland are followed by the second sprint of the day in Whitby. The route then continues to Robin Hood’s Bay for the third and final climb, before the stage finish in Scarborough.
There is potential for the first stage to play a decisive role in next year's race as the riders tackle the exposed North Yorkshire Moors, before facing crosswinds as they ride down the coast from Whitby to the finish line in Scarborough.
Stage Two: Tadcaster to Harrogate (122.5km)
The second stage from Tadcaster to Harrogate, which shares the same route as the Asda Tour de Yorkshire women’s race run earlier on the Saturday, sees the riders face an intermediate sprint in Knaresborough, before they tackle the days only categorised climb, the Côte de Lofthouse.
The riders will then head to Ripon to contest the second sprint of the day, before an undulating approach to Harrogate. The stage will finish along Parliament Street, just as it did on the opening stage of the 2014 Tour de France, when Mark Cavendish crashed in the sprint finish.
With only one categorised climb coming halfway through the stage, albeit the fearsome Côte de Lofthouse, this is likely, at first glance, to be another sprint finish in Harrogate, like it was at the Tour de France. However, the run into Harrogate is tougher than it looks; an undulating final leg follows the intermediate sprint in Ripon, with a couple of hills just before the race reaches Harrogate, which should create some exciting racing and may also leave the sprinters frustrated.
Stage Three: Bradford to Fox Valley, Sheffield (194.5km)
The final stage has been nicknamed the “Yorkshire Terrier” by the race organisers because of the 3,500m of climbing over eight categorised climbs, including four in the final 20km. The stage will start in Bradford, before the first of the eight categorised climbs comes when the race reaches Silsden. Climbs of Haworth, Leeming and Shibden Wall follow, before intermediate sprints in Clifton and Stocksbridge.
Once the final intermediate sprint has been contested the riders will then embark on a tough – and likely race defining - 22km finishing circuit that features no-less than four categorised climbs. The Côte de Deepcar, Wigtwizzle, Ewden Height and Midhopestones all come in the final 15km of the race, before the finish at Fox Valley.
The climbs in the final 15km will not only separate the strong riders from the weaker ones, but they could also provide the perfect springboard for a late pursuit for glory for the stage - and potentially overall - victory at Fox Valley.