Welcome To Yorkshire have confirmed that they are in talks with British Cycling about a potential bid to host the road World Championships, after British chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne announced at a press conference in Leeds on Thursday that they would back a future bid.
“The Government have been very supportive of late of our efforts, they were very supportive around the Tour de France and we’ve been talking to them since about what we can do to build on that,” Welcome Yorkshire chairman Gary Verity told Cyclingnews. “We’re going to explore with our friends at British Cycling about the possibility of bringing the UK the Cycling world road championships and Osborne has announced today some report to that.”
If the bid was successful, it would be the first time in the UK since Goodwood in 1982. Great Britain has only hosted the World Championships on one other occasion back on the second running of the event in 1922 when it was held in Liverpool. While a Yorkshire bid is not 100 per cent certain, as British Cycling have to invite expressions of interest, Verity is unaware any other contenders and is determined to have major racing return to the county.
“We want Yorkshire, off the back of the Tour de France success, to be at the heart of any future British bid to host the worlds and we want to spend the next few months working that up with that.”
Among those plans will be deciding on the year that they wish to target. The venues for the next three World Championships have been decided with Richmond, USA hosting it this season, Doha, Qatar in 2016 and Bergen, Norway in 2017, leaving the next open spot in 2018. The course will also be a crucial talking point and Verity believes that they can offer up any type of parcours that British Cycling asks for.
“You’ve got all types of terrain in Yorkshire so you can do a hilly stage, you can do a flat stage or an intermediate stage,” explained Verity. “Whatever the feeling is in the discussions that we will have with the excellent team at British Cycling, the typography required is absolutely something that can be delivered because we have all possibilities.”
Bigger and better
Yorkshire played host to the Tour de France’s Grand Départ in 2014, to huge success with unprecedented fans lining the roads and, if they are to host the Worlds somewhere down the line, Verity wants it to be just as good. “We delivered the grandest Grand Départ of the Tour de France in the 111-year history of the race,” said Verity.
“I’m sure if we were to be given the honour of hosting the road World Championships again that we would be able to give a really good account of ourselves and we would be able to do it in such a way that it would be as memorable as the Tour de France was in Yorkshire in last Yorkshire.”
The funding from the exchequer will be used to get the bid off the ground and make them a viable option for the UCI, however Yorkshire will have to foot some of the bill if they want to take on the week-long event. The cost will be sized up over the coming months during the meetings between Welcome Yorkshire and British Cycling. Verity didn’t put a potential number on what it would cost them but he is confident that they will be able to bring that money back into the local economy.
“The cost of the Tour de France was about 25 million quid, ball park, and the benefits of the UK economy just in that weekend in July was 130 million across the whole UK and 102 million to Yorkshire,” he said. “That was just that weekend in July and it has been growing since to a much bigger number. Basically a five to one return, and I think you’ll see at least that for any big cycling event that we host in the future.”
Since hosting the Tour de France, the county has seen a huge boost in the numbers of people interested in the sport and taking up cycling. Verity says that the World Championships would only serve to make the sport even bigger.
“I think that it would just build on the momentum and the excellent work of British Cycling over the past decade or more. You saw how last year’s Tour de France inspired a whole generation of people to really fall in love with cycling and older people like me to be energised by cycling. I’m sure more big cycling events coming here would be absolutely part of that.”
Yorkshire is also set to host the Tour de Yorkshire this May, a three-day event backed by Tour de France organisers ASO.