Ground-breaking Para event gets Yorkshire 2019 off to a flying start
The cycling celebrations got off to a sensational start on Saturday with the Yorkshire 2019 Para-Cycling International taking place in glorious conditions before the opening ceremony kicked off the 2019 UCI Road World Championships in the Harrogate Fan Zone.
Tens of thousands of fans turned out to cheer on the best para-cyclists in the world as they competed in the first-ever para-cycling event to be held alongside the UCI Road World Championships. 89 male and female para-athletes battled it out in no less than 26 different races, with Beverley’s Adam Duggleby the very first rider to cross the finish line piloting Hebden Bridge resident Stephen Bate after emerging triumphant in the B class.
Dame Sarah Storey meanwhile, was one of five world champions in action and she too romped to victory in the C5 class.
And then, once the para action had concluded, attention immediately turned to the Fan Zone as huge crowds saw UCI President David Lappartient officially declare the UCI Road World Championships open alongside Yorkshire 2019 CEO Andy Hindley, British Cycling CEO Julie Harrington and Welcome to Yorkshire Commercial Director Peter Dodd.
The Championships’ racing will start on Sunday with the Team Time Trial Mixed Relay that will see male and female athletes compete alongside each other for the very first time.
Highlights of the Yorkshire 2019 Para-Cycling International will be screened on BBC Two from 1pm on Sunday as part of the live coverage of the Team Trial Mixed Relay.
Adam Duggleby said: “This is the first time para-cycling races have ever been held alongside an able-bodied event and finishing on the same line as the Road World Championships was pretty special.”
Steve Bate said: “That’s one of the fastest rides we’ve done all year and it was a real war of attrition. The atmosphere was absolutely incredible and we couldn’t have asked for more. Every town we passed through was absolutely packed and to hear our names being called out was just phenomenal. We’ve never experienced anything like that – not even at the Rio Games. It’s great to come away with a win and we want to thank everyone for all that support.”
Dame Sarah Storey said: “This is the biggest para crowd I’ve raced in front of since London 2012 and I heard so many cheers and people shouting my name – it was amazing. The course was really good too and held in such a beautiful location. We very rarely get to ride point to point but Yorkshire’s taken the bull by the horns and hopefully this can be a blueprint for how para-cycling events are run worldwide. It was a really sensational event and I’m proud to have been part of it.”
Yorkshire 2019 CEO Andy Hindley said: “I’ve been completely blown away by the weather, crowds, scenery and support. The racing was brilliant too and all the riders were telling me it’s the best event to happen since London 2012. That means so much to me as we really wanted this to be a meaningful event, held on exactly the same stage as the Championships. The dream has become a reality today.
“The Fan Zone is looking incredible too and we’re fully go now that the opening ceremony has taken place. We’re ready to host the brand-new Team Time Trial Mixed Relay and there’s eight days of equally incredible racing ahead.”
Welcome to Yorkshire Commercial Director Peter Dodd said: “I think this para event took cycling to a whole new level in Yorkshire, and I didn’t think there were many levels left! I was in Tadcaster at one of the three start locations and the way the town embraced it was amazing. Beverley was buzzing as well and Wetherby equally great. Harrogate obviously deserves a mention too – it was amazing – and today was a real first for Yorkshire. We’re so proud it’s been a success as both ourselves and our partners pushed very hard for a para event to be held alongside the Championships. Those efforts have definitely been rewarded.
“Over 36,000 people were in the Fan Zone as well today too and it’s been a real party atmosphere - very reminiscent of the Tour de France Grand Départ back in 2014. We can’t wait for the Championships now and that’s going to be equally spectacular.”
About the Yorkshire 2019 Para-Cycling International:
The Yorkshire 2019 Para-Cycling International was the first-ever para-cycling event to take place alongside a UCI Road World Championships.
The event was organised by Yorkshire 2019 and British Cycling and included 26 races in total, all held on one day, with men’s and women’s contests taking place across all four para-cycling classifications. Setting off from Beverley, Tadcaster and Wetherby, every race finished in Harrogate and the results will count towards qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.