FOR Bob Brayshaw, the Tour de Yorkshire holds more significance than most.

As Operations Director for the spectacular cycle race, Bob is responsible for coming up with a route that both tests the world’s best riders and also showcases everything that is great about Yorkshire.

This year’s race starts on Thursday with the climax on Sunday. During the four stages it will visit every corner of the county, coming into our region on Friday, when Stage 2 finishes in Bedale, Saturday, when Stage 3 passes through the likes of Whitby and Grosmont and finally when the peloton rides through Middleham and Masham on Stage 4.

For Bob, it’s the culmination of 12 months of planning.

“We start with local authorities and towns putting bids in to be a host of either a start or finish. Once we have a list we work out which will be which, marry them up and make the best of Yorkshire in terms of the routes we can physically do between Point A and Point B,” he said. “After that it is really about avoiding motorways, rivers and railway lines as they cut through everything and then adding the sporting element – getting the climbs in the right places to get the finish we would like to see.”

Bob has to strike a balance between pleasing the riders and providing a visual spectacle for the hoardes of spectators that line the route.

“There have been examples over the last five years where I would have loved to have taken the race to a certain place – such as Rosedale Chimney on the North York Moors, but we haven’t had the opportunity because you have to go a certain way to get to it,” he says. “It’s about the bigger picture of the stage itself, not individual locations.

“We have avoided places in the past, for safety reasons. For example, we would never come down Rosedale Chimney because we would end up with the most of the cyclists ploughing a straight line through the bracken and the heather.”

As for this year’s course?

“Stage 1 is definitely a sprinter’s stage, but the weather will have an impact,” says Bob. “It is very flat and open. If we get some crosswinds that could have a real bearing on things. Depending on Mark Cavendish’s form it could be him or one of the other sprinters. Stage 2 is not a massively hilly stage but has some moments and is probably another sprinter’s stage. Stage 3 and certainly 4 are for your all-rounders because Yorkshire just never gives in, it never gives up, it’s constantly hill after hill after hill. I wouldn’t like to put my money on anyone, but obviously Team Ineos (formally Team Sky) will be going for it in their initial outing.”

Feedback over the years, has been ‘remarkably positive’ says Bob.

“It is seen as one of the toughest races of the season,” he says. “We don’t have the 20km climbs of the Alps but we have constant up and downs – there is no real relaxation time and that is what the riders like. It’s tough riding.”

Bob wouldn’t have it any other way.