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Harrogate will be the hub town for the Union Cycliste Internationale between 22 and 29 September 2019. Races will be from as far away as Doncaster, Bradford or Beverly, with some entering the town and finishing, but others then completing a number of laps of a route through the town.
The Harrogate circuit will see road closures of the circuit for a few hours, generally then finishing at 4pm.
There will be rolling road blocks on the road circuits coming into the town, similar to the Tour de Yorkshire. The Tour de France saw near day long closures, that’s not the case with this event.
The event is different to the Tour de France or Tour de Yorkshire as it will place Harrogate on the world stage on daily basis for the duration of the event – this is much more significant than hosting a start or finish for a Tour de France/ Yorkshire.
It’s big, with over 1,000 riders and associated support along with a press media centre based in the Harrogate Convention Centre.
There will also be a finish-line fan park with entertainments.
Organisers say that the route of the internal circuit in Harrogate will be released in September this year, but have acknowledged that staging does create challenges. Pedestrians and other cyclists will be able to cross the route, but others will not. Those living within the town circuit won’t be able to drive in or out while the race is on – but that will only be for a few hours. Details of the closures will communicated out, giving opportunity for people to plan their travels or parcel deliveries.
Organisers are currently working on engagement with the Borough/ County Councils and emergency services before they communicate more details of the event. The organisers are committed to communication and gaining engagement for the event.
Charlie Dewhirst, Head of Communications for the event, said:
We want people and the area to take full advantage of the opportunity. This event showcases Harrogate to a global audience.
In due cause we are looking to engage and communicate all our plans, but we are not in a position to release the route of the town centre circuit just yet.
But as a business, I would encourage them to start thinking of how they can take advantage of the opportunity.
The Tour de France was not universally welcomed to the town with some businesses, both large and small, with some citing it as a very poor trading day. The Tour de France is significantly different to this event, seeing a large influx and then exodus of visitors on the Saturday of the stage 1 finish. Many of the riders will have then travelled to overnight at the start of the 2nd stage.
The UCI will see many more people stopping in the town for the duration of the even and the associated uplift to local hotels and restaurants.
From a media perspective there will an influx of journalist, photographers and film crews, many not just looking to cover the event itself, but pick up on other news in the area – that means showcasing the district.
We spoke to Simon Cotton, managing director of the HRH Group , that company that owns the Fat Badger, White Hart Hotel and now the Yorkshire Hotel in Harrogate, amongst others in Yorkshire
Simon Cotton said:
I’m totally in support of UCI coming to Harrogate and believe that if everyone plans well enough in advance then the vast majority of businesses can do well out of it. As with all big events in our town, there has to be an element of engagement with these things and if you sit back and take the attitude of ‘what are they doing for me’ then I don’t think you’ll benefit much.
However, plan well, communicate with the event organisers, even consider changing your offering slightly, or particularly opening hours and I believe there will be huge opportunities to benefit from the thousands of extra visitors that will be attending.
Lastly, I recognise that not every single business may benefit on the specific days of the event itself but I would hope that people take the view that a strong local economy drives a strong local economy and local businesses use each other so in one way or another the benefits will be filtered through to everyone in some form or another.
It’s going to be a great event and Harrogate survives off such things and we simply couldn’t buy this kind of publicity.