The 2019 UCI World Championships have just concluded and while the Wollongong World Champs – scheduled for 2022 – might seem a distant thought for many, there’s plenty of work already happening behind the scenes to prepare.
The planning for the Yorkshire 2019 Championships started in 2016 when the bid was put to the UCI and Harrogate subsequently won the right to host the world championships.
Based on Yorkshire’s successful (if damp!) event, Wollongong and surrounding areas can expect a huge influx of visitors and a week or more of partying.
Despite receiving a deluge of rain, Yorkshire 2019 CEO Andy Hindley is declaring the event a huge success.
Despite the heavy rain, the event put Yorkshire firmly on the cycling map for the UK.
The Championships are very unusual in sporting event management because you don’t sell tickets and therefore it’s really hard to estimate spectator numbers. And even with the almost daily deluge there were plenty of roadside spectators who were complemented by an estimated 250 million worldwide broadcast audience.
In Wollongong, the organisers will have the same challenge in estimated crowd numbers but based on our experience they can expect an influx of visitors and a great party atmosphere. The beer will flow and there’ll be local and international fans lining the roads to cheer on their favourite riders.
Local businesses will need to be geared up. In Yorkshire, we had mixed reactions to local business owners. Some shut up shop but most embraced the opportunity. Cafes, bars, and restaurants that weren’t even on the course did really well and the food and drinks were flowing.
There were enterprising business people who approached companies that sponsor professional cycling teams. One hairdresser handed over their premises to Katusha for the week. They were really savvy and on the front-foot about getting involved.
Andy said that the thing that surprised him most about organising such an epic event was the cooperation they received from the local authorities. It involved coordinating 10 local authorities. There was 10,000 km of road that had to be surveyed, checked and if necessary repaired.
They also worked with four police forces, the National Health Service, the ambulance service, power suppliers – gas and electric – plus water and the railways, highways, and Ministry of Defence.
We were expecting it to be tougher to coordinate all the local authorities but they were all very open and collaborative. We listened carefully to their input and learned a lot in the process.
It is probably hard for the Wollongong organisers to use Yorkshire as an indication of how many international fans will make the trip, but I expect those very keen fans will make it into a longer holiday in Australia which will benefit the wider tourism industry.
Andy Hindley is a keen mountain bike and road cyclist and is looking forward to getting back to some more solid riding once he finishes up with the Yorkshire 2019 in December this year. He doesn’t have a new job waiting around the corner so he’ll be training for an organised ride in the Pyrenees of 850 km in May 2020.