It’s now 100 days until the start of the UCI Road World Championships; when top athletes and fans from around the globe will head to Yorkshire for cycling’s equivalent of the World Cup.
Today (Friday 14 June), marks 100 days until the prestigious race arrives in North Yorkshire in September, featuring approximately 1,400 of the world’s top cyclists from at least 80 different countries.
Each national team will be bringing with it dozens of support staff, adding to the many fans expected in the region. An additional 5,000 amateur cyclists are expected to take part in the race’s sportive through the Yorkshire Dales.
The countdown to the start of the championships was heralded by the ceremonial handing over of UCI Road World Championship flags at Kiplin Hall. The hall sits halfway between Richmond and Northallerton – both of which will host a start point during the nine days of racing.
The flags were handed over to the leaders of North Yorkshire County Council and Hambleton and Richmondshire District Councils by Andy Hindley, the Chief Executive of Yorkshire 2019 - a subsidiary of UK Sport which was set up to deliver the race.
“Traditionally the World Road Championships covers a repeat circuit along the same 25km route, but we’ve chosen to spread the race across Yorkshire.
“Starting in a different location every day will bring with it logistical challenges, but it will bring with it phenomenal exposure to an audience of 250 million viewers and will really showcase the county,” he said.
It will be the first time Great Britain has hosted the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) race since 1982.
The race, often described as the World Cup of cycling, will be broadcast live by the BBC to an audience of approximately 250 million.
This year will be the first year the UCI race has featured a para-cycling event which will run alongside and act as a qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
The Road World Championships take place across nine days in Yorkshire, with each day’s race finishing in Harrogate. There will be a number of start points in North Yorkshire, in Harrogate, Ripon, Northallerton and Richmond. The para-cycling race will have starts in Tadcaster and Wetherby. Each day’s race finishes in Harrogate.
Leader of North Yorkshire County Council, Cllr Carl Les, said: “The arrival of the UCI Road World Championships promises to be a once-in-a-generation event.
“Within the next 100 days teams from across the world will be arriving in North Yorkshire and we want to make sure we put on a terrific welcome. We hope communities will come together again to welcome our international visitors and this prestigious, global sporting event.”
Councillor Bridget Fortune, Hambleton District Council’s portfolio holder for leisure, added that preparations for the arrival of the time trials in Northallerton on September 25 were already well underway.
“We are very excited that the world’s top riders are coming to our district and intend to give them a great welcome – the communities are busy gearing up for it already,” she said.
Deputy Leader of Richmondshire District Council, Councillor Helen Grant, said Richmondshire was also getting ready.
She said: “Not only will there be top cyclists coming to our district, but we are also expecting an massive influx of cycling enthusiasts from across the world and we will be doing everything we can to showcase our businesses and communities.”
The flag was delivered to Kiplin Hall, which was built in 1619 for George Calvert, the founder of the State of Maryland in the US. One of Calvert’s direct descendants, George Calvert, helped launch the University of Maryland in 1858.
The American university now rents a former stable block on the site, so its students can stay and study architecture and building preservation.
James Etherington, the director of Kiplin Hall, said he was expecting more visitors from the US and overseas during the race.
“Kiplin Hall has strong international links,” said James.
“George Calvert, who built this home, was granted the charter to build a colony in America and we get a lot of the descendants of those original colonists visiting here. People are always interested in tracing their family roots and a big international event like this is a good opportunity for people to do that.”