Usually it is when the dust settles that stock is taken and perspective is given, but as the UCI Road World Championships drew to a close last night, a more apposite saying would be when the waterproofs dry out.
Nine days of world-class cycling drew to a close in abysmal conditions yesterday, rain of a relentless and unremitting nature saturating cyclists, spectators and the county’s roads to such an extent that the route for the men’s race had to be shortened.
Pity for those who had decamped to Buttertubs and Grinton Moor for the day, but perhaps understandable given riders’ safety has to be of paramount importance. Organisers deserve praise for their quick, decisive action to make life as easy as possible for riders and fans.
These world championships, the first on our shores for 37 years, bring to an end a half-decade of inexorable growth in Yorkshire’s status as a cycling venue.
Whether it is the capital of cycling as organisers like to suggest – the Netherlands and Belgium might understandably dispute that statement – it has certainly become a relevant player on the international stage.
Welcome to Yorkshire may have lost their cycling figurehead in Sir Gary Verity, the architect behind the Tour de France’s memorable visit here in 2014, but the tourism board’s relationship with race organisers Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) remains strong.
These world championships, the first on our shores for 37 years, bring to an end a half-decade of inexorable growth in Yorkshire’s status as a cycling venue.Nick Westby
So strong in fact that it has for a long time now been a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’ the Tour de France comes back to Yorkshire.
Further to that, discussions have been held with ASO about the other grand tour they organise, the Vuelta a Espana, coming to Yorkshire.
Verity began those conversations which his interim replacement at Welcome to Yorkshire, Peter Dodds, has continued. The talk there is of the first three days of racing taking place in Yorkshire, with 2022 an oft-discussed date for that to come to fruition.
Any Tour de France return would not be until 2024, but the race for the yellow jersey is the big prize.
Yorkshire also now has a relationship with the Union Cycliste International after this successful staging of their world championships. The weather has been disruptive but of no one’s fault. What can you do about rain, apart from stage the championships in the summer, but this is still Britain.
The UCI will name its hosts of the road world championships of 2025, ’26 and ’27 next year with the next five all spoken for. Is that too quickly to turn around another bid? Possibly. And by the time they are eligible again, the game may have changed with Glasgow 2023 set to be the first world championships to combine road with track and mountain biking. Yorkshire has a world-renowned mountain bike venue in the Dalby Forest but a velodrome would need to be built, meaning money needs to be found.
Of a more annual basis, the Tour de Yorkshire is contracted until 2022 and is constantly evolving to increase its status.
Welcome to Yorkshire continues to run that in conjunction with ASO.
Whatever comes next, with a Tour de France and a world championships on its palmarés, Yorkshire has proven more than capable of hosting the biggest events in cycling.