Tour de Yorkshire extends to four day race

Shibden Wall Image copyright SWPix
Image caption The third day of the 2017 race included eight categorised climbs, including Cote de Shibden Wall

The Tour de Yorkshire cycle race has been extended to four days.

Union Cycliste Internationale confirmed its decision on Tuesday and next year's event will now run from 3 to 6 May.

Welcome to Yorkshire, which jointly organises the event with Amaury Sports Organisation, said it would allow them to design a more varied route.

The race was launched in 2015 as a legacy project following Yorkshire's successful hosting of the 2014 Grand Depart leg of the Tour de France.

Last year's event was watched by an estimated 2.2m people and took place over three days, generating £64m for the local economy.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The event attracted large crowds of spectators in 2015 and 2016
Image caption Many lined the route across the region

The decision means there will be eight start and finish destinations at next year's race, the details of which are set to be announced later this month.

The women's race will also double in length, taking place on 3 and 4 May.

Sir Gary Verity, Welcome To Yorkshire's chief executive, said: "This is absolutely tremendous news and something we have been long working to achieve.

"This decision will help us attract even bigger names in the future and allow us to design a more varied and spectacular route."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Serge Pauwels won stage three and finished first overall in the 2017 race

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said the success of the event had been "incredible".

"The size and passion of the crowds has not just impressed me, but the cyclists too." he added.

"They are always blown away by the reception they receive and are already looking forward to coming back in 2018."

British Cycling chief executive Julie Harrington said: "[This] will give even more people a chance to see our great sport at close quarters."

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