Yorkshire is the place for major sporting events come rain of shine

The men's race on a soaking wet day in Harrogate.
The men's race on a soaking wet day in Harrogate.
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It never rains, but it pours, as the saying goes. Don’t we know it.

READ MORE - Report from the UCI me's road race

Better weather 24 hours earlier for the women's race

Better weather 24 hours earlier for the women's race

The heavens opened at the worst possible moment for Yorkshire’s big day in the sporting spotlight.

The UCI Road World Championships have been building to a crescendo all week with junior races, time-trials, paralympic events and team races holding the Yorkshire public and the hundreds of thousands of international visitors in thrall.

Each race passed with drama and tension, but the final day of the championships were the showpiece, the men’s road race being the equivalent of these championships’ final.

And that is when the worst of the weather hit. Roads had been flooded before this week, but not to the extent that a motorbike had to shepherd descending riders through overflowing thoroughfares like a safety car slowing a Formula 1 race to a standstill.

Relentless, torrential rain fell from the minute the peloton left Leeds city centre at 9am to the moment Mads Pedersen crossed the finish line in Harrogate to claim the rainbow jersey after an attritional, spirit-sapping six and a half hours of racing.

The weather forecast had been bad enough that the 285km route had already been shortened and diverted at Bishopdale Beck, sending riders east up Temple Bank and along the A684 to Leyburn.

That meant the climbs up Buttertubs and Grinton Moor were foresaken and fans preparing for the race in Bainbridge, Hawes, Muker, Gunnerside and Reeth missed out on seeing the race through their communities.

Such inclement weather, such incessent rain, would have dampened spirits in other counties.

But not in Yorkshire.

Not in the Broad Acres, where folk are made of sterner stuff.

Local fans and curious observers stood shoulder to shoulder with fans from Belgium and Poland, Canada and Australia, in defiance at the conditions, at times pushing their faces over barriers and staring into the teeth of the tempest to get a better look at the action.

Fans – and the riders – deserve enormous credit for persevering.

As do the organisers, Yorkshire 2019 and the UCI, for rallying emergency services to clear the roads to allow the race to continue in treacherous conditions.

Fortunately the conditions were much more favourable for the women’s race on Saturday, even if the local crowd did not get the result they craved, a win for home favourite Lizzi Deignan.

Anna van Vleuten soloed from 104km out to claim victory on the road from Bradford to Harrogate, leaving Deignan to take comfort in the arms of her daughter Orla.

It was an emotional scene at the finish line, just as the spray on The Stray was atmospheric yesterday, all of it proving once and for all that Yorkshire is the place for world class sport come rain or shine.