Harrogate welcomes the world may seem a bold claim now but in 12 months time it will be a reality for the town, its business and its residents.
It’s not often Harrogate and neighbouring towns and villages in North Yorkshire are the focus of an international press conference.
But last night in Innsbruck in Austria the Swiss-based UCI (The Union Cycliste Internationale, the world governing body for sports cycling which oversees international competitive cycling events) unveiled the first details of its plans for when Harrogate and North Yorkshire hosts next year’s UCI Road World Championships.
Of prime interest was exactly where the world’s most famous cyclists were going to ride when they arrive here for nine days next September.
The routes, when they were revealed, proved to be a godsend for not only cycling fans but anyone who cares about promoting the full splendour of Harrogate district to a worldwide audience of potential tourists and villagers.
Not only do most of the races, ranging from men’s and women’s races, across age groups from junior to elite, take in places like Pateley Bridge and Ripon but each race will end in Harrogate itself for all nine days.
So important is the choice of Yorkshire as the first British host of the UCI Road World Championships since 1982, Sir Gary Verity is describing Harrogate as “the ultimate host town.”
The chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said: “It is a great honour for Yorkshire to be hosting the 2019 UCI Road World Championships.
“Harrogate will be the epicentre of the championships; the ultimate host town.
“Every race culminates on Parliament Street meaning the town will crown each new World Champion.
“Harrogate has proved it is a natural at hosting world class events; we saw it with the dramatic finish to stage one of the Tour de France in 2014 and with the fantastic crowds that lined the stage two finish of the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire.
“I know Harrogate will once again rise to the challenge and give the world a huge Yorkshire welcome.’
One of the key routes during the championshops will the the crucial 14k town centre circuit, completed several times at the end of most races. The circuit will be along West Park, Otley Road, going down to Beckwithshaw, then travelling up to Jubilee Roundabout near Pennypot Lane, then Cornwall Road and Ripon Road, ending ultimately on Parliament Street where the Tour de France wowed the crowds in Harrogate in 2014.
The championships will include a range of men’s and women’s races, starting in different towns and cities throughout Yorkshire and each finishing in the main competition town of Harrogate.
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UCI President David Lappartient said he was confident Harrogate and all of Yorkshire would rise to the occasion.
He said: “After the Tour de France Grand Départ in 2014 and the creation of the legacy Tour de Yorkshire, this magnificent region has left us in no doubt that the 2019 UCI Road World Championships will be a memorable occasion.”
It will be the first time since 1982 that Britain has hosted the UCI Road World Championships which form part of the ‘triple crown of cycling’ along with two of the three Grand Tours - the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.
This will build even further on the county’s growing global reputation for the sport after hosting ‘the grandest of Grand Départs’ for the 2014 Tour de France and the annual legacy race the Tour de Yorkshire which continues to grow each year with record-breaking spectator numbers.
Organisers are already working closely with local authority partners including North Yorkshire County Council, East Riding Council, Doncaster Council, Leeds City Council, Hambleton District Council, Harrogate Borough Council and City of York Council.
As for where the money will come from, the Government has committed to invest £24 million, £15 million of which will be used to develop 27 cycle sport facilities across the UK which will leave a lasting grassroots legacy.
In addition, there will be £3 million of National Lottery funding from UK Sport.
North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council have said they are each offering support ‘in kind’ in terms of staffing resources, though both said they were unable to put a figure on the cost involved.
Inevitably, the nine days of the UCI Road World Championships next year will necessitate road closures.