White Rose bid to attract the cycling world in £24m investment plan plus reaction

Yorkshire is bidding to boost its burgeoning profile on the international cycling stage by applying to host the 2019 UCI Road World Championships.

Cyclists make their way through the streets of Market Weighton during the first stage race in the Tour de Yorkshire
Cyclists make their way through the streets of Market Weighton during the first stage race in the Tour de Yorkshire

British Cycling - alongside Welcome to Yorkshire and UK Sport - has submitted a bid to the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) for Yorkshire to host the 2019 UCI Road World Championships, the sport’s governing body today confirmed.

The UK Government has guaranteed to both back the event with £24m of investment and to underwrite the full cost of the bid, which was presented to UCI president Brian Cookson by Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity.

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The proposed race programme will include starts in north, south, east and west Yorkshire. All four ridings have embraced the Tour de Yorkshire - the third iteration of the popular sportive takes place next year - while the 2014 Tour de France departed from Leeds and reached Sheffield on its second day.

Verity, who believes “cycling is in Yorkshire’s DNA”, feels the four-ridings area has the infrastructure and passion to make a success of the event.

He said: “It would be an absolute honour to host the 2019 UCI Road World Championships.

“Yorkshire has everything a bike race could wish for. We can promise a gruelling but spectacular range of routes, huge crowds and the very warmest of welcomes. We are sure the world’s best riders will find our beautiful roads both challenging and exhilarating in equal measure.

“The Tour de France Grand Depart in 2014 cemented the county’s place as a world-class cycling destination and since then I have been proud to oversee the launch and growth of the Tour de Yorkshire - a race which is now regarded as one of the most dramatic and well-supported events in the sport.

“Make no mistake, cycling is in Yorkshire’s DNA and hosting the 2019 UCI Road World Championships will only reaffirm that.

“Yorkshire is ready to embrace the Championships. We’ve turned the county yellow once before, and now we want to see it swathed with those coveted rainbow bands.”

The Championships span eight days and include individual and team time trials as well as full road races for Under-18, Under-23 and elite male and female riders. October will see the event take place in Doha, Qatar, while Bergen, Norway and Innsbruck, Austria are scheduled to host in 2017 and 2018.

There are numerous logistical challenges to hosting a Road World Championships, however.

The competition involves lengthy road closures, so a more rural location might be suitable, but accommodation for riders, team staff and supporters must be present as well.

The world governing body also holds its congress at the Championships, so a suitable venue for that would also be needed.

The bid promises to not only deliver a world-class cycle race but also a £15m package of nationwide investment to further develop cycling facilities, inspiring the nation to get on their bikes.

British Cycling’s president, Bob Howden, said: “The UCI 2019 Road World Championships should find its natural home in Britain and in Yorkshire. Britain has proved that when it gets behind major cycling events, it really does the nation proud. Not only would Yorkshire deliver a cycling event to rival the scenes we saw in 2014 (during the Tour de France Grand Depart), it promises to build on our fantastic legacy of getting more people to discover the joys of life on two wheels.

“Backed by substantial government investment, our bid promises not only to host the biggest UCI Road World Championships in history, it will secure new facilities across the country to ensure that even more people get to experience British Cycling programmes and opportunities to get on their bikes.

“This bid represents a chance to set a new standard for an international sporting event. A country-wide investment in facilities ensures the participation legacy is not an add-on but built into the bid from the start and means the benefits will be felt far beyond the host region and for far longer than the eight days of the championships.

“Working alongside UK Sport and Welcome to Yorkshire, we collectively stand ready to deliver both the event and the lasting legacy that will sit behind it.

“We have the experience of hosting top class world cycling events, we have the structures in place to support a continued boom in interest in cycling, and we’re more ready than ever to truly show the world how passionate Britain is about one of its favourite sports.”

Announcing the bid formally today in The Yorkshire Post, Prime Minister Theresa May commented: “Yorkshire’s beauty was brilliantly shown off to the world by cycling events like the Tour de France and the fantastic Tour de Yorkshire, led by Sir Gary Verity.

“So today I can announce that we have backed a Yorkshire-led bid to bring cycling’s World Road Championships to Britain. This week, British Cycling’s bid to hold the event in Yorkshire was delivered to the sport’s governing body, the UCI. The government will underwrite the event and back it with £24m of investment so that we can get even more people to visit the region. Our backing will include £15m for cycling infrastructure projects, to encourage even greater participation in the sport and continue the proud legacy that has seen our athletes excel at the Rio Games.”