Vitus Pro Cycling Team will race against some of the biggest teams in the world this May in the fourth edition of the Tour de Yorkshire.
Cherie Pridham’s young team, backed by the storied cycling marque Vitus, and a host of blue chip sponsors including Toyota, Oakley, Mavic and Salomon, will go wheel-to-wheel with the giants of the UCI WorldTour, from May 3 to May 6, 2018.
The televised race, founded as a legacy of Yorkshire’s Grand Départ of the 2014 Tour de France, has attracted millions of people to the roadside in its first three editions, and this year’s additional, fourth stage is likely to boost its popularity even further.
Pridham, the owner and manager of Vitus Pro Cycling Team, said receiving an invitation to the Tour de Yorkshire from ASO, who also own the Tour de France, was a significant coup for her new team.
“I’m just delighted for everyone involved with the team, from the sponsors to the staff to the riders. For a new team to have gained an invitation to such a prestigious race is massive, and shows what is possible when everyone is on the same page.
“This will be my fourth Tour de Yorkshire as a team manager, and I’ve seen the race grow year-by-year. It’s hugely exciting to be involved in the 2018 edition, and with a fourth stage there will be even greater opportunity for us to make our mark on the race.
“We’ll take it stage-by-stage, look for the breakaways and fight hard to give our sponsors the publicity they deserve. It’s a great showcase, and we can push on now and prove to partners who want to become involved with cycling just what the possibilities are for a motivated group of staff and riders.”
Vitus Pro Cycling Team is one of just six British squads registered as a UCI Continental team. The sought-after designation allows Pridham’s squad to compete in some of the most respected races in Europe, as well as the biggest races on the domestic calendar.
Pridham, a world class rider in a pioneering age for the women’s sport, is one of the most experienced figures in British cycling, and an invaluable guide to a young squad with nine riders aged under 23, including five teenagers.
The new team is a showcase for emerging British talent, including 18-year-old Tim Torrie, a stage winner in The Netherlands’ prestigious Acht Van Bladel race for junior riders, and 21-year-old Harrison Jones, who last year raced for Alberto Contador’s development team.
With a network of international contacts, Pridham has also recruited some of the most promising riders in Europe. Julio Amores, a member of the Spanish national track team, Latvian powerhouse Deins Kanepejs, and the young Irishman Ben Walsh, who last year represented his country as a junior at the World Championships in Norway, will all be options for the Tour de Yorkshire, as Vitus Pro Cycling Team prepares for its biggest race to date.
Pridham is clear, however, that with a critical second phase of the season set to begin almost as soon as the Tour de Yorkshire ends, she will have to balance youth with experience. The team must also be well represented in the Tour Series, a televised series of city centre circuit races, and experienced campaigners like Josh Hunt and Adam Kenway are likely to prove invaluable in meeting the demands of such a varied race programme.
This year’s Tour de Yorkshire starts in Beverley on Thursday May 3, 2018, from where the riders will set out on a lumpy, 182km route to Doncaster that passes the famous race course. The following day, the riders will face a shorter, but more challenging route of 149km from Barnsley, ending with a steep climb into Ilkley.
Stage three, on Saturday May 5, 2018, offers a mix of challenging climbs and a full gas, seafront finish, as the riders tackle a 184km route from Richmond to Scarborough. The final stage, which will run from Halifax to Leeds on Sunday May 6, 2018, has been dubbed ‘the Yorkshire Terrier’, and includes a host of demanding climbs.
“I hadn’t allowed myself to look closely at the route before our invitation was confirmed, but now I’ll look in detail, and we’ll probably recce two or three of the stages,” Pridham revealed.