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World Championships in Harrogate "catalyst for ill feeling", says organiser hoping to revive Tour de Yorkshire

"The 2019 Worlds is an example of too much of a good thing and it created some ill feeling": Robin Scott is trying to get the stage race back on Yorkshire's roads...

If the Tour de Yorkshire is to return to the racing calendar, it will have to overcome ill feeling and concerns about hosting cycling events following the 2019 UCI Road World Championships, hosted in Harrogate.

That is the view of Robin Scott, whose Silicon Dales company last month bought certain assets of the race's former co-organisers Welcome to Yorkshire, which went into administration in March after local authorities pulled the plug on funding.

> Tour de Yorkshire: New hope that race may be back next year

Mr Scott is hoping his Manchester-based company can revive the popular stage race, last held back in 2019 over four stages during the first weekend in May.

However, he acknowledges there is work to be done to convince councils, businesses and the public that their region should be hosting cycling events.

Mr Scott believes much of this "ill feeling" can be traced to the 2019 UCI Road World Championships, which he says was "an example of too much of a good thing" and attracted accusations of damage to the Stray — a 200-acre parkland in the centre of Harrogate which hosted a fan zone during the 11-day event — and complaints from business owners about road closures.

Harrogate Worlds 2019 fan zone mud (credit Simon MacMichael)

"To be honest, I think that event (2019 UCI Road World Championships) was potentially one of the catalysts for some ill feeling," he told The Yorkshire Post.

"The 2019 Worlds I think was an example of too much of a good thing and it created some ill feeling, there wasn't a universal reaction of 'This is brilliant'. Whereas with the Tour de Yorkshire, everyone is super positive about it and it really captures everybody's imagination."


Last year, a social impact evaluation commissioned by British Cycling, Sport England and UK Sport, found that:

There were also some negative consequences of the Road World Championships expressed by host community residents surveyed, particularly in Harrogate, where respondents were critical of the inconvenience and disruption due to the prolonged road closures compared with other host locations such as Doncaster and Leeds.

Another sticking point in Harrogate was the damage caused to a section of the Stray – a protected public area of green space – where the Championship Fan Zone was located.

The event was seen to have had a major disruptive impact on the community in Harrogate, which is illustrated starkly by Harrogate Borough Council's decision to refrain temporarily from hosting major events of this scale.

Mr Scott added there will need to be a change in the way the event's organiser deals with local councils, and admits it "wasn't fair" to ask them to underwrite the event.

"We can bring it in as a packaged event and say to councils, ‘Do you want this in your region?’ We're not going to come around with a pot and say: 'You've got to underwrite this' and that is going to be the big difference," he explained.

"The other thing to consider is the amounts of money involved. It is not crazy money — we are not talking about putting on the Commonwealth Games or even the World Championships that happened in 2019 in Harrogate.

"There is an opportunity. It has been away three years and we can bring it back the same but better. It is the biggest cycling event in the UK, we want to make sure that stays. We also want to make sure all the big teams are in.

Tour de Yorkshire 2019 - Copyright ASO, SWPix.com_

"People have got on their bikes in the last couple of years. We want to encourage that because it is healthy and a great way to see Yorkshire. Success would be the bike race happening in any format."

Chris Lawless, then of the team branded under the Sky banner, was the last winner of the race, and Mr Scott said he hoped any future edition would include an improved women's race and a new U23 women's race.

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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