Ahead of the start of the 2020 UCI Road World Championships in Imola tomorrow, we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate the ongoing legacy of last year's event in Yorkshire, both in the county and beyond.
Taking place over nine days and over 1,000km of racing, the event succeeded in its ambition to be the most inclusive championships ever, with the integration of para-cycling into the event schedule a landmark moment for the sport.
It also proved to be a roaring success for Yorkshire too, with close to 750,000 spectators lining the roads, over €28 million of economic impact was generated and over 300 million pairs of eyes watching the events unfold on TV across the world. Impressively, 78% of spectators from Yorkshire said they were inspired to take up cycling or cycle more frequently as a result of the championships.
All of the event’s legacy activity was brought together under the #OwnTheRide umbrella campaign, which set out to harness the enthusiasm of the championships and provide communities with a range of ways to get involved in the action themselves. Here’s a quick summary of some of the work which went on.
Places to Ride
Since launching in November 2018, the £15 million Places to Ride capital grants programme has funded over 50 small and large-scale projects, from equipment packages through to multi-discipline facilities.
The fund was established by Government and is being delivered through a partnership of British Cycling, Sport England and the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS).
The first major legacy investment into cycling facilities was the Doncaster Cycle Track, a 1km-long, 6m-wide traffic-free circuit featuring the world’s only man-made cobbled climb. The facility hosted the start of the junior women’s road race and men’s under-23 road race at the championships.
Andy Maddox, Business Development Manager for Doncaster Council, said:
“The hosting of stage starts and inclusion in the Place to Ride programme cemented our ‘whole systems approach’ to developing cycling across Doncaster. The completion of the closed road circuit provides a much-needed resource to our communities, but at the same time an iconic visual sign that we have a long-term ambition to become a cycle friendly borough.
“Although Covid-19 has presented challenges for all, our cycle strategy and approach will ensure that the closed road circuit will remain at the heart of our plans and help support the continued growth in cycling seen across Doncaster.”
In April this year, the Places to Ride fund donated £100,000 to the Wheels for Heroes crowdfunder, providing new bicycles for NHS staff to borrow to help them safely travel for free during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the longer term the bikes will continue to be made available for NHS staff and key workers, and to support initiatives such as patient rehabilitation programmes.
A championships for young and old
Across the first weekend of the championships British Cycling’s network of Go-Ride clubs were invited to get involved in the biggest-ever weekend of Go-Ride Racing, with almost 50 clubs providing over a thousand aspiring cyclists with the opportunity to experience the thrill of racing – many for the first time.
In addition to this, over 3,000 more young people built up their skills and technique – in spite of the elements – through Go-Ride coaching in the event Fanzone in Harrogate.
Meanwhile, an innovative partnership between British Cycling, Sport England and the Norwegian startup Motitech saw static bikes rolled out in more than 50 care facilities, helping hundreds of older people remain active through cycling.
Playing Out and learning to ride
Ahead of the event we joined forces with parent-led movement, Playing Out, to help more communities to close their streets to traffic and provide kids with a safe place to learn to ride on their doorstep.
This collaboration saw 27 organisations attend a training day on how to make this easier in their own communities, while we also helped to raise awareness of the initiative with the help of six-time Olympic gold medallist Jason Kenny. British Cycling is continuing to work with Playing Out, the Department for Transport and others to simplify the process nationwide.
British Cycling Chief Executive, Julie Harrington, said:
“While the world has been turned upside down since last year’s world championships in Yorkshire, it’s fantastic to see that our work to harness the enthusiasm and inspiration of the event is continuing to help more people to discover or rediscover cycling across the country.
“Providing safe places for people to learn to ride and build up their confidence is going to be vital if we are to bring about the ‘golden age of cycling’ heralded by the Prime Minister earlier this year. As the Places to Ride fund enters its final months, we can already feel incredibly proud of the impact it is having in Doncaster and all of the other communities which have benefited from its support.”