UCI ROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – 21-29 September 2019

UCI ROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – 21-29 September 2019

The countdown has begun…

In a few days’ time, the quiet roads of North Yorkshire will undergo a thrilling transformation. In place of pheasants cluttering up the tarmac, and the odd Land-Rover breaking the speed limit, the county’s thoroughfares – from Northallerton to Harrogate ­– will be lined with onlookers cheering on cyclists in this year’s UCI Road World Championships.

Up hill and down dale

Yorkshire has quite the reputation when it comes to cycling. In 2014 it hosted the ‘Grand Depart’ (or ‘Starting Point’ for those whose French is poor) of the Tour de France, while this year’s televised Tour de Yorkshire snaffled 28 million viewers around the world as teams of bikers battled their way across all four corners of the county.

The UCI championships is the ultimate event in the road cycling calendar, however, which is why we’re so excited it’s taking place in God’s Own County. Featuring 12 races over the course of eight days – and spanning a large expanse of North Yorkshire – it will follow more than a thousand competitors – male, female, junior and elite – all bent on bagging the winner’s famous Rainbow Jersey.

Or will they…?

The curse of the Rainbow Jersey

Since its inception in 1927, UCI champions earn the right to wear the Rainbow Jersey for a year, while competing in the event in which he or she is champion. However, many believe that those who nail the colourful top (it’s actually a white shirt banded with the colours of the Olympic rings rather than a fluffy pullover in violet, indigo, etc) then fall prey to a malignant curse.

But is there really a juju out to get these sporting heroes? Or is it a myth perpetuated by writers and commentators with an eye for a story? Certainly, much has been scribbled on the subject, including an article in the British Medical Journal. It is also true that, in the year after their win, UCI champions come under close surveillance for any signs of ill-fortune.

While the jury is still out on whether the jersey is jinxed or not, many competitors agree that the burden of expectation that comes from wearing it is a weighty one. Those whose careers have faltered include Alessandro Ballan, who caught a virus at the start of his 2009 rainbow-wearing season, which put him out of action for three months; Philippe Gilbert, whose victorious 2011-2012 season in which he scored four victories including the rainbow one, was followed by a year in which he only had one win; and Alejandro Valverde, last year’s UCI winner who, despite saying that the curse was ‘nonsense’ has had a rather less successful season than he did in 2018. He did win Stage 7 of the Vuelta a Espana but was recently beaten by Primoz Rogelic in the race’s final stage.

For more information about the UCI World Championships, visit worldsyorkshire.com

Get into gear

If all this cycle chat is making you want to break out your bib shorts, why not plan a tour of your own? We have lots of beautiful properties located on, or near, championship bike routes, as well as contacts with local cycle companies, should you want to hire a bike. All you have to do is decide how much time you want to spend in the saddle…

Best for cyclists in search of culture: Hill Top Farm; Cherry Cottage,

These two properties, both in the village of Grantley, are on the cycle route to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, a World Heritage site featuring vast Cistercian ruins, an 18th century water garden and a medieval deer park. Other cultural highlights nearby include Ripon Cathedral, which is home to a 7th century crypt, and the 18th century Turkish Baths in Harrogate, where a soothing steam will sort out aching quads.

Best for serious cyclists: The Hall

Located in Pateley Bridge, in the market town of Nidderdale, The Hall is the perfect base for hardcore bikers. Come with your friends as it sleeps 16, but make sure they’re super-fit: the Pateley Bridge to Masham ride, which includes two tortuously tough climbs, is not for the faint-hearted.

Best for cyclists who like their nosh: 1 Dairy Cottages; The Mews

Cyclists who stay in either of these two sweet cottages in Masham will be perfectly set up for a combination of biking and eating. Ideal for families, the seven-mile circular route starts in Masham, where you can load up on carbs at Johnny Baghdad’s Café on the Square before heading out towards Grewelthorpe for proper coffee at the Hackfall Cafe. Return via Swinton and sample the seasonal menu at the swanky Swinton Hill hotel.

Best for cyclists in large groups: Highside Farm; Howe Villa

Located in Richmond, on the edge of the Dales National Park, both of these large properties are close to the Dales Bike Centre, the starting point for some of the most amazing road riding experiences in the UK, including the interestingly named Buttertubs Pass and Park Rash.

Best for cyclists who want to Instagram the views: Manor Grange Cottage; Fortmanyne Stables,

Yorkshire is home to the most Instagrammed countryside in the UK, according to a recent poll. Stay at our properties in Newton-le-Willows on the edge of the Dales and start snapping. Top vistas within biking distance include Hornby Castle, Leyburn Shawl, a limestone escarpment with panoramic views over Wensleydale, and Janet’s Fosse waterfall.

For cycle hire, visit: dalesbikecentre.co.uk; cycopathcycles.co.uk; nidderdalecycles.co.uk

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