Expectations surrounding the future legacy of the UCI Road World Championships have reached new highs as the sporting event cements itself as the biggest on UK soil this year, with hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the route and the action being beamed to a global TV audience of over 250 million.
The first time Great Britain has hosted the event since 1982, the past nine days of spectacular racing across Yorkshire saw approximately 1,400 riders from a total from 90 countries compete for the rainbow jersey - one of the most historic and iconic prizes in the sport.
For the first time ever, the event has been paired with the largest ever funding injection to make it easier for people to get out and ride their bikes in their local communities - with Government committing £15 million funding for new and improved cycling facilities across England. It is the biggest government investment into community cycling facilities the country has seen in recent years, with the goal of turning inspiration into increased participation and the impact of the ‘Places to Ride’ programme already bearing fruit.
The Doncaster Cycle Track – a 1km-long, 6m-wide traffic-free circuit which includes a cobbled climb -was the first new facility to open and played host to both the Junior Women’s and Under-23 Men’s Road Races starts during the Championships. The facility is expected to provide 40,000 opportunities in the first year to riders of all ages and abilities. Places to Ride has also introduced virtual cycling technology into 60 care homes in England, via a unique partnership with Norwegian start-up Motitech, to help older people – particularly those with Dementia - enjoy the benefits of physical activity.
The Places to Ride programme is open for applications and will be delivered over the next two years through a unique partnership between British Cycling, Sport England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). The programme will fund a range of community facilities for cycling including large-scale multi-use venues through to cycle trails in parks, BMX tracks and ‘learn to ride’ areas. Smaller requests are also welcome to provide organisations with access to bikes and equipment, all of which will help to transform communities.
Julie Harrington, Chief Executive of British Cycling, said: “Hosting a home Road World Championships is a once in a generation opportunity and we must make every effort to capitalise on the buzz of enthusiasm felt, not only in Yorkshire, but across the whole country. Ever since we won the bid to host the championships back in 2016, we’ve been building robust plans to ensure it has a ripple effect which will enable thousands more people to embrace cycling in whichever way they choose.
“Using major events to inspire greater participation has been the foundation of the success enjoyed by British Cycling over the last decade, with our membership growing 10-fold in that period. We’re confident that with our HSBC UK Go Ride and HSBC UK Ready Set Ride programmes designed to help teach and develop children’s cycling skills, our unique partnership with Playing Out, alongside the new Places to Ride facilities programme, we can engage a new audience with cycling and ensure that our vision becomes a reality.”
Welcome to Yorkshire Commercial Director Peter Dodd, said: “When we first expressed an interest in Yorkshire hosting the UCI Road World Championships, it was essential to us that they were the most innovative, most inclusive and most inspiring Championships ever, and we achieved that over the last nine days. We’re immensely proud of all the cycling initiatives that are now in place on the back of the Championships and the event really is delivering a legacy that will transform the sporting fabric of our country.”
Yorkshire 2019 CEO Andy Hindley, said: “We were treated to some incredible racing during the Championships and hopefully that will have inspired people of all ages and abilities to get on their bikes. With this fantastic Places to Ride funding in place, and all the great work British Cycling are doing, we’re already seeing new and improved cycling facilities popping up all over the country and there has never been a better time to give cycling a go.”
Tim Hollingsworth, Sport England’s Chief Executive, said: “Despite the extreme weather conditions over the weekend the excitement, crowded streets and spectacular racing of these World Championships have clearly shown that cycling is one of our nation’s most popular sports with the potential to inspire many more people into regular activity. Sport England is determined to turn this inspiration into action. That means providing more people with the opportunity to cycle in their communities in a safe and accessible space through the ‘Places to Ride’ scheme and breaking down barriers to entry with partnerships like that of This Girl Can and British Cycling’s HSBC UK Breeze campaign. We hope many more people go from the TV to riding in their local community after this dramatic sporting spectacle.
Nigel Adams, Minister for Sport, Media and Creative Industries said: “I’ve been proud to see my home county of Yorkshire welcome the world’s best riders to compete for the iconic rainbow jersey. The volunteers, officials and spectators have put on a fantastic spectacle to promote the region to millions and further cement the UK’s reputation for hosting the biggest and best events in world sport.
“It's important that we secure a real participation legacy too. Facilities like the new Doncaster Cycle Track will be the first of many to benefit from the Government’s £15 million investment to ensure this event helps grow the sport and inspires people of all ages and abilities to get active.”
Dame Katherine Grainger, Chair of UK Sport, said: “The past nine days of action across Yorkshire have once again demonstrated that the UK is a world class destination for sport and home to knowledgeable and passionate fans who will turn out rain or shine. Via our National Lottery funded event programme, UK Sport is committed to bringing the biggest sporting competitions, like the UCI Road World Championships, to these shores. It isn’t just about the fantastic action, but also the long-term positive social and economic impact which results from holding these major sporting events. The Doncaster Cycle Track is a fantastic example of this legacy work and I look forward to seeing future projects flourish as a result of Places to Ride investment.”
From free bike rides, cycling opportunities for children or to apply for facilities funding, find out more about how you can #OwnTheRide here.