On top of the world

On top of the world

Yorkshire turned yellow for the Tour de France Grand Départ in 2014 and now it’s set to be swathed in the rainbow stripes of the UCI Road World Championships in 2019. Nick Howes finds out what this means to the county.

Ask Mark Cavendish what the greatest moment of his illustrious cycling career is so far and it is sure to be his victory at the 2011 UCI Road World Championships. That day has gone down in history as the consummate cycling performance – a day when Great Britain united as one and put every other cycling nation to the sword before delivering the Manxman to a stunning sprint triumph.

After punching the air in delight and being swamped by his team-mates, Cavendish wept with joy as he realised what he’d just achieved. Although perhaps not as widely known as the Tour de France, that is what the World Championships mean to the best cyclists in the business, and this blockbuster event is coming to Yorkshire in 2019.

Approximately 1,000 male and female athletes from 75 countries will jet in over the eight days of action to battle it out in a fantastic festival of cycling. Individual and team time trial events will be contested first before full road races take place for Under 18s, Under 23s and Elite riders.

Whereas yellow, polka dot and green jerseys can come and go in the space of 24 hours, the owner of the rainbow jersey is entitled to wear it for a full 12 months, and the list of previous winners reads like a who’s who of top cycling talent.

It’s been a long time since the World Championships were last on British shores. You have to go all the way back to 1982 for the most recent edition when Italian Giuseppe Saronni escaped to victory in the men’s road race and Mandy Jones romped to a legendary home triumph in the women’s event.

That day at the Goodwood race circuit is one Mandy will remember forever, and despite hailing from Lancashire, she’s delighted to see the Championships taking place on Yorkshire roads. “It’s an absolutely fantastic event and I’m so proud it’s coming back to Britain,” said Mandy. “When I won, the home crowd really made a difference and hopefully it’ll be the same again for one of our athletes in 2019.”

British Champion Adam Blythe competed in his first World Championships last year, and as a proud Yorkshireman himself, he insists the county will be more than up to the challenge. He said: “It’s the perfect location to host the World Championships because the roads are really challenging. The routes will certainly be selective and make for exciting racing, and the crowds in Yorkshire are always massive.” “Years ago I never imagined the world’s best riders would come here and race on the same roads I trained on, but now that’s the reality.”

For Denise Burton-Cole – a World Championships bronze medallist in 1975 and daughter of two-time world champion Beryl Burton OBE – this is a dream come true. She said: “My mother would have been very proud, as I am proud, for Yorkshire to be hosting such an important event. Mum and I travelled the globe representing Great Britain at the UCI Road World Championships. How marvellous it would have been for us to compete in Yorkshire, our home county. It would have been so special. Now the best riders in the world are going to have that opportunity. Am I envious? You bet I am!”

So what can we expect from the 2019 route? Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity has revealed it will take in all four corners of the county and has a team working with cycling’s world governing body the UCI to deliver a range of spectacular routes. He said: “The eyes of the world will be on Yorkshire once again and we certainly know how to put on a show. Four million fans lined the route when we hosted ‘the grandest of Grand Départs’ at the 2014 Tour de France, and we’re now planning the biggest and best World Championships in history.

“We’ve turned the county yellow once before and now we want to see it covered in those iconic rainbow bands.”

This article was taken from This is Y 2017