Lizzie Armitstead excited to return for 2017 Women's Tour de Yorkshire
Lizzie Deignan has committed her return to this year's Tour de Yorkshire.
The Otley cyclist spearheaded the foundation of the race which started in her home town last year and she will be the star name again as the riders tackle a 122.5km route from Tadcaster to Harrogate.
Deignan (nee Armistead), will lead the Dutch-registered Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team in the world's most lucrative cycle race, with total prize money at Â£50,000.
The race will take place on Saturday, April 29 – one day after the start of the three-day men's race.
Kirsten Wild sprinted to victory in the inaugural women's race last year after Deignan's late breakaway was swept up by the peloton close to the line.
The 2017 route, which will take the same route as the men's second stage, could be better suited for the 28-year-old with the testing Côte de Lofthouse climb coming at the halfway point in the race.
Deignan, who won a silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games, said: “I’m really excited to be riding the Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire again and am looking forward to being back on home turf.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of racing between now and then, but I hope to be there in good form and able to make my mark on the race.
“It’s a more challenging route this year and that’s one of the great things about the Tour de Yorkshire, that we’re able to compete on the exact same roads as the men.”
The men’s race will start with a 173km stage from Bridlington to Scarborough 24 hours earlier and culminate with a 194.5km trek from Bradford to Fox Valley, Sheffield on Sunday.
Four-time Tour de France stage winner Thomas Voeckler has committed his return to defend the title he won last year.
Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity said: “Lizzie is one of Yorkshire’s top cycling talents and we’re thrilled that she’ll be taking part in the race.
“I’m proud of the fact that we’re able to attract the world’s best cyclists due to the unique benefits our race can offer.
“It’s rare that female riders get to compete on the same course as their male equivalents, and almost unprecedented that their races are broadcast in their entirety like this one will be on ITV4.
“Thanks to our great sponsors we’re able to offer a prize pot of Â£50,000 as well, which makes the Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire one of the most lucrative in the sport.”