Cycling

Testing finish awaits at Tour de Yorkshire

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The second Tour de Yorkshire will culminate in an arduous day of climbing on a stage designed to pay tribute to Captain Cook.

At the route launch in Otley on Wednesday, organisers announced the third and final stage of next year's race will start in Cook's birthplace, Middlesbrough, before passing through his boyhood home of Great Ayton and Whitby on its way to the finish in Scarborough.

The Tour will begin on April 29 with a 184 kilometre stage from Beverley to Settle, taking in sections of the 2014 Tour de France route, before Saturday's second stage, a 135km run from Otley to Doncaster which will also be tackled by the women's race earlier in the day.

The brutal final stage is designed to keep the battle for overall victory alive until the finish line - with a total of 2593m of climbing, including an ascent of Sutton Bank - where gradients reach 25 per cent.

Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome To Yorkshire, said: "Last year we had a fairly tough first stage and we've toned it down a bit this year - it's possible a sprinter could win the first stage because there's just one categorised climb out of Pateley Bridge.

"The third stage is a very tough stage, it's been designed that way - the Captain Cook stage, it's very tough in terms of climbs."

Stage two will start in Otley, home to women's world champion Lizzie Armitstead, and pass through Harworth, once the hometown of British cycling great Tom Simpson - who died while competing in the 1967 Tour de France.

By using the same route for the men's stage and the women's race, Verity is hoping to elevate the status of the latter.

"There have been complaints in the past that women's races have been designed separately to the men or that they are easier, so we are doing it over exactly the same route and everything, including the TV coverage, will be identical," he said.

"Women have been lobbying to get equal coverage in terms of media and hopefully this will do that."

Last year, Norwegian Lars Petter Nordhaug, competing for Team Sky, won the inaugural race, which was created following the huge success of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014.

Massive crowds again turned out last year to watch the likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins - who is expected to return in 2016 - take part, and Verity is already pushing to turn the Tour into a four-day event by 2017.

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