From September 22-29th Yorkshire will play host to the annual UCI Road World Championships, its rolling roads and undulating hills providing the perfect backdrop to this year's proceedings. Yorkshire has become somewhat of a hub for British road cycling in recent years, with varied and sometimes technical roads that will surely put even the toughest riders to the test through the county's rolling hills. Recent years editions of the Tour of Yorkshire have highlighted just how big the UK's appetite for road cycling is, with the 2017 race receiving a record turnout of 2.2 million spectators, ensuring that this years World Championships is one event not to be missed!
This year's race marks 37 years since its last visit to the UK and is the fourth time that we have played host to the event. 1982 saw the Worlds come to Goodwood, a gripping race which saw Italian national Giuseppe Saronni take the top step of the podium. Before that, the UK hosted the 1970 edition in Leicester and previous to that an early edition took place in Liverpool, almost 100 years ago in 1922. How will this year shape up? Road cycling's following has grown, expect to see hordes of excited fans and much support from the Harrogate locals throughout the 11 events, as well as some seriously exciting race action from the world's top cyclists.
The event sees 11 races spread out over an 8-day period, with a mix of time trials and road races being taken on by junior, under 23, and elite categories. For the first time, this year sees an all new para-cycling event being raced alongside the World Championships, with four races on Saturday, September 21st. This race acts as a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic games, showcasing all four Paralympic road disciplines in what could potentially be one of the largest para-cycling audiences ever assembled. Every year the UCI World Championships focuses around a key circuit, with this year's being a 14km loop situated around the town of Harrogate. Each race starts at a neighbouring town, with each race having a respective distance and route that ultimately finishes on the Harrogate circuit. The 8-days of racing leads to a crescendo on Sunday, September 29th, with the Elite Men's road race - an unreal 285km route from Leeds through the Yorkshire Dales, to a 7-lap finish of the Harrogate circuit.
The Route: Who is Best Suited?
Although lacking the elevation of some previous World Championship editions, the Yorkshire Elite Men's route sees three key climb segments - Cray, Buttertubs Pass and Grinton Moor, as well as the route being a rather lumpy affair that will no doubt push riders to the edge. This year's line-up is undeniably strong, with Gilbert, Sagan and the seasons key player Julian Alaphilippe all keeping their eyes firmly on the rainbow jersey. Peter Sagan will be looking to put in a performance in order to take the worlds title for an unprecedented 4th time, but the season so far has been one of disappointment for the Slovakian - is it too late for him to turn it around?
Coming off the back of a win at the Vuelta a Espa�a is Primo� Rogli?, another serious contender for the win if back up to full speed, but undoubtably the name causing the most buzz is that of Mathieu van der Poel. The Dutch national has had a sensational season, throwing away the rulebook when it comes to being defined by a single cycling genre and putting down some seemingly implausible performances. Putting aside his usually packed calendar of cyclocross racing, Mathieu van der Poel will no doubt be looking to make his mark at this year's edition and is our pick for the rainbow jersey this year. The Individual Time Trials take place midweek, with (form dependant) Geraint Thomas likely to make a splash on what is surprisingly his first World Championship Time Trial.
The Elite women's race takes place on a shorter, 149km loop, with two categorised climbs and a final 3-laps of the finishing circuit. Racing through her hometown of Otley is GB hopeful Lizzie Deignan, who will no doubt be motivated by home crowds and local roads - can she repeat on her 2015 World Championships win? Not if Marianne Vos can help it, who is the red-hot favourite with 16 victories in 2019 so far this season; she is sure to put in a performance on the Yorkshire roads. Rounding off an incredibly strong Dutch team are Anna van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten and Chantal Blaak, ensuring their presence will surely be felt at this year's race.
A New Discipline
Put to the test at the European Championships this year was the Team Time Trial Mixed Relay, a new format that sees nations sending a trio of men and women around a short course, with the handover consisting of the women starting as the team's second man crosses the line. The event is contested by nations rather than trade teams, with a focus on mixed team performance - expect to see the Dutch put in a strong performance to try and repeat their win at the European Championships.
How to Get Involved
UK residents are able to view the action on either BBC or Eurosport, but if you want to get up close to the action check out the World Championships website for their handy spectator guide and head to Yorkshire to view the race absolutely free of charge!Shop all road bikes
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