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Yorkshire UCI 2019: Harrogate gets ready to "welcome the world"

Yorkshire UCI 2019: Harrogate gets ready to "welcome the world"

Published by Lisa Darvill at 6:01am 28th September 2018. (Updated at 7:15am 28th September 2018)

Preparations are already well underway in Harrogate as it gets ready to host the 2019 UCI Road World Championships. 

There's 12 months to go until the world's top cyclists will be in Yorkshire competing for the iconic rainbow jersey between 21st and 29th September 2019. 

Last night Welcome to Yorkshire announced the full route and schedule for next year's event. Whilst most of the races will start in different locations in the region, they will all end in Harrogate. 

Tourism agency, Visit Harrogate, is urging the district’s tourism sector to embrace the championships as it promises more than just a ‘short term injection’ into the local economy.

Richard Spencer, CEO of Visit Harrogate, said: 

"2019 offers a chance for the Harrogate District’s food and drink, retail and accommodation sectors, alongside our major attractions, to fling their doors open to the world and its media."

2018’s Championships are currently being hosted right now in Innsbruck, following the 2017 event which took place in Bergen.

Richard added:

"The recent report into the economic impact on Bergen shows visitors to Bergen spent €21m during the 2017 Championships. Visiting media and teams spent almost €4m in Bergen over the course of the Championships and those Championships provided a €25m boost to the economy of Bergen.

"Teams, support staff and media stayed on average for more than a week, while spectators from abroad enjoyed average extended stays of more than four days. Even those coming from other parts of Norway made the most of the opportunity to see world class cycling on home soil and stayed more than three nights on average.

"As an organisation and town, we are gearing up to give a very warm welcome to the world, as we unfurl banners across the district saying just that: ‘Harrogate Welcomes the World’. The Championships provided Bergen with substantial global exposure, with broadcast reaching 129 countries and a cumulative audience of 225 million. That’s a significant worldwide audience that can only enrich our tourism and footfall."

Harrogate Chamber of Trade is backing calls for businesses to plan and make the most of the event. 

Its Chief Exec, Sandra Doherty said:

"Every day people will be looking for something different to do alongside watching the cycling. So they won't just come and have one meal out, try one bar or try one street of shops. Every day they'll go and look at something different, not just in the town centre necessarily, but the whole district."

Sandra admits some businesses were skeptical when it was first announced Harrogate would be the host town. However, she said they changed their minds after a meeting with race organisers. 

She added: 

"They made it very plain that the town is not going to be closed, the rolling road closures will just follow the route of that day and it will only be one road into town, it won't be every route. And it's just a rolling closure so it wont be a permanent thing, not even for a day."

With 12 months still to go, hotels are already getting booked up. 

Simon Cotton, Managing Director of HRH Hotel Group told Stray FM: 

"It's going to be amazing for hotels, guest houses, B&Bs, even campsites. The whole spectrum of accommodation providers will benefit from this hugely. Harrogate is a busy town year in, year out anyway. But this is a fantastic advert for future guests as well.

"Most of the hotels are reporting to be close to full, but not everybody is completely full, that's for sure. However we have had to give a lot of space over to the organisers of the event, that was part of the bidding process." 

It's not just businesses who are gearing up. cycling fans are also getting ready welcome the event.

Gia Morgolis from Harrogate cycling club Wheel Easy said: 

"I don't think people realise how huge it's going to be. Nine days of cycle racing all based around the centre of Harrogate. It's a great opportunity to see world-class cycling in the town. 

"From our point of view we see that there will be a legacy from this. It's a great sport, but it's also a great leisure activity."

Click here to see the full route and schedule