Yorkshire bridge collapse could force reroute of elite men's road race at World Championships

Organisers of the 2019 UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire this September could be forced to alter the elite men's road race after a bridge collapsed on the circuit due to flood waters. The Guardian reported Wednesday that Grinton Moor Bridge had collapsed and left the road impassable.

Eight days of racing at the Yorkshire World Championships will begin September 22 and conclude Sunday, September 29, with the elite men's road race.

The men's 285km contest starts in Leeds and begins with one large loop of about 180km that covers climbs over Cray Summit (64km), Buttertubs Summit (100km), and Grinton Moor Summit (154km) before returning to Harrorgate for seven laps of a technical 13km finishing circuit.

The peloton was expected to ride over the Grinton Moor Bridge [which crosses the River Swale] at roughly 120km into the race, just before entering the small village of Grinton. The Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team released images of the Grinton Moor Bridge after it collapsed due to flood waters. The images show a gaping hole across the entire width of the bridge and the wall on the right side almost completely gone. More recent photos, however, show the entire bridge had been swept away by the fast-flowing river.

The Guardian reported that organisers of the Yorkshire World Championships are scheduled to visit the area on Wednesday to evaluate the damage but said the priority was placed on residents in the area.

"At the current time, our thoughts are with those affected by the flooding. We will address any damage to race routes with North Yorkshire county council in due course," said Andy Hindley, Chief Executive of Yorkshire 2019.

The section of route over the Grinton Moor Bridge was also used in the Tour de France Grand Depart in 2014. The rolling green hills around the bridge were expected to be a prime location for viewing the elite men's race at the Yorkshire Worlds.

The elite women's 150km race is not affected by the bridge collapse because it doesn't travel as far north as Grinton. The women start in Bradford and only travel as north as Masham, in North Yorkshire, before looping back south toward Harrogate, where they complete three finishing circuits.

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