Getting bigger and better each year, the Tour de Yorkshire is a massive event in the county’s sporting calendar. The three-day celebration of speed and endurance has taken place every May bank holiday weekend since 2015. Top-name cyclists from all over the world fly in for the event - as do the spectators. Over two million sports fans descend on Yorkshire to watch the lycra flash past - and try the gruelling course for themselves by taking part in the amateur Sportive event. Whether you’re there to watch or compete, Leeds is a brilliant place to get your sports mad break to the Tour de Yorkshire off to a great start.
When the Tour de France held its first stage in Yorkshire in 2014, it was a massive success, bringing three million visitors and £102m to the local economy. It was such a hit that in 2015 it was announced that Yorkshire would host its own road cycling race - called the Tour de Yorkshire in homage to its French origins.
The three-day annual bike race has a different route each year to showcase all the natural beauty of this fabulous county.The complete course covers 304 miles of luscious Yorkshire countryside over three stages, with one held each day. There’s also a women’s race and a Sportive, also called the Yorkshire Ride, that takes place on the final day. The Sportive gives amateur cyclists the chance to race the final stage ahead of the pros.
Planning to come to the Tour de Yorkshire? Expect it to be busy! Apart from the two million spectators descending on the county, around 6,000 amateur cyclists will be taking part in the Sportive on the last day of the event. If you’re going to be one of them and you’re making Leeds your base, remember that local buses don’t allow bikes, and trains only have two bike spaces each.
Driving to the Tour de Yorkshire? Expect to come up against rolling road closures, although these should last no more than an hour. Closures will be longer at the start and finish lines and some climbs. Road closures will be managed by the police.
Yorkshire Coastliner connects Leeds to Whitby, Scarborough, Filey and Bridlington. Or there’s the Dales Bus that can take you right into the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.
Expect some disruptions caused by the race.
You can get a Northern Rail train from Leeds to the North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales, the Peak District and the coast.
Or there’s the First TransPennine Express which can take you to York in less than half an hour.
If you’re coming to the Tour de Yorkshire as a spectator, plan in advance what you want to see. Both the start and finish lines are great for atmosphere, but will be busy. Routes where the climb is particularly steep are also popular - fine if you’re tall or if you don’t mind watching the riders flash past through the gap in someone’s armpit. Wherever you plan to watch, be careful to avoid the wrath of the locals by not sitting on any of Yorkshire’s famous dry stone walls.
The race takes place all over Yorkshire, but if you’ve made Leeds your base you’ll find plenty of places to eat, drink and relax after your adventures further afield. Here are the best options in the city centre - all are just a short walk from the station.
Leeds is full of places that can satisfy any culinary craving. But if you’ve just spent the day cheering on the cyclists, you’ll want something quick and tasty. Our advice is to head directly to Bundobust. Why? Well, Indian Street food and Craft beer - what’s not to like? Food favourites at Bundobust include okra fries and Bundo chaat, washed down by an impressive selection of craft beer, including their very own Bombay Dazzler, or an Indian inspired cocktail, like the Mumbai Mule or Whiskey Raita. You’ll eat on long tables for that communal dining feel - perfect for chatting about the race.
Just a short stroll from the station, Friends of Ham is a cool bar with a laid-back vibe - and, intriguingly, an artisan charcuterie as its centrepiece. There’s a revolving menu of craft beers, a great wine list from all over the world and a charming, distressed decor that’s just on the right side of rustic. But it’s the tasty meat and cheese platters that keep people coming back for more. They’re filled with the best Spanish hams and delectable Yorkshire cheeses to try - just pick a selection of your favourites. And if you’ve just ridden 100km in the Sportive, you’ll be pleased to hear that there’s also table service – great news for tired legs.
Looking for a place to revive your tired limbs? Just a five-minute stagger from Leeds station lies a spa experience like no other. Lush, more famous for their bath bombs than their treatments, have really raised the spa bar, offering innovative experiences that delight all the senses. The Leeds Lush Spa is underneath its busy shop, but you’ll think you’re in heaven, not the city centre. It would be wrong to spoil the surprises, but everything here is designed to make you smile and fit in with the theme of your massage. Take the Comforter, an hour long treatment involving a hot body scrub massage designed to get you ‘drunk on chocolate’. Sounds like heaven!
From Leeds’ city centre to its leafy suburbs and beautiful surrounding countryside, you'll find lots of great hotels in Leeds. If you need to be central, try the First Direct Arena Hotel and Trinity Leeds Hotel, or Leeds City West for Elland Road. For those jetting in, check out Leeds/Bradford Airport hotel.