The elite women's road race at the 2019 UCI road World Championships in Yorkshire starts in Bradford and makes its way north to Shipley and Otley, before the climb of Norwood Edge. It continues north to Pateley Bridge, then past Gouthwaite reservoir to Lofthouse, which marks the start of the Côte de Lofthouse climb. The elite women then race down to Masham, and on to West Tanfield and Ripon.
The route towards Harrogate takes in Bishop Thornton, Shaw Mills, Birstwith, and Hampsthwaite. The A59 brings the riders to the New Park roundabout; they then take the A61 Ripon Road towards the centre of Harrogate, but do three laps of the Harrogate circuit before the finish on West Park.
See also a Google map of the race route.
|Date||Saturday 28th September 2019|
|Event classification||Road race|
|Distance||149.5km (route plus 3 circuits)|
The official race profile for the elite women's road race:
Timings to follow.
The elite women's road race starts in front of Bradford City Hall in Centenary Square (ceremonial start).
During the neutralised section (a roll-out at reduced pace, before the racing starts), the riders leave Centenary Square on Market Street, then fork left on Cheapside/Manor Row. They cross the A6181 and pick up the A650 Manningham Lane which takes them past Bradford City's Valley Parade ground.
The route goes through Lister Park, then it rejoins the A650 (now called Keighley Road). When it reaches Northcliffe Park, it forks right on Otley Road to Shipley. They leave Shipley on the A6038. The flag goes down and the racing starts on the A6038 near Baildon.
The route takes the A6038 up Hollins Hill. Then it's down to White Cross, site of the original Harry Ramsdens (now a Wetherby Whaler). From White Cross, the riders take the A65 to Menston, and the A6038 to Otley. (It's appropriate that the elite women's race should pass through Lizzie Deignan's home town).
At the central crossroads in Otley, by the Black Horse Hotel, it's left down to the bridge over the Wharfe.
After crossing the Wharfe, the riders turn right on Farnley Lane, and a little further on, left to Farnley. There'll be no time to stop and admire the chapel - apart from Annemiek van Vleuten, who probably could and still catch up.
From Farnley, there's a really nice rolling (but mainly downhill) stretch of road to the bridge across the end of Lindley Wood reservoir.
LIndley Wood reservoir marks the start of the Norwood Edge climb. (Norwood is pronounced 'Noh-rud', I'm told; Chris Boardman, Simon Brotherton, Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie: you can have that one for free, and not fall foul of the Pronunciation Police!).
The height is 97m at the start, and the steepest bit (16%) comes quite soon. The road goes through woods on the second part of the climb. The average gradient is 9%. After 1.2 miles, the riders will reach the top (266m). Tejvan Pettinger, who has participated in hill climbs on Norwood Edge, has set out the details of the ascent.
From the top of Norwood Edge, there's a nice, open view towards Bland Hill, and Menwith Hill beyond.
It's an exhilarating whizz down towards Bland Hill. This is kestrel country.
The road passes the Sun Inn.
The race route crosses the A59 at Dangerous Corner, and passes Menwith Hill Camp and its giant golf balls. There's a sharp left bend before the road descends Hardgroves Hill.
At Darley Head, the peloton reaches the Wellington Inn.
There's also a Nelson Inn not that far away, on the A59: it seems a little surprising that the Napoleonic Wars left such a mark on this corner of North Yorkshire! Anyway, I'm sure Pauline Ferrand-Prévot won't let it put her off.
It's downhill to Darley Beck, where Darley Mill Centre stands (unfortunately closed since 2016). On the other side of the beck, the road climbs to Dacre, then descends to Dacre Banks.
Leaving Dacre Banks, the race route crosses the river Nidd to get to Summerbridge.
At Summerbridge, the riders turn left on the B6165, which follows the river Nidd (not that closely) upstream. The B6165 is a horrible and dangerous road to cycle under normal conditions, when it isn't closed to traffic, so let's hope the Nidderdale Greenway extension to Pateley Bridge can be created as soon as possible.
The first village after Summerbridge is Low Laithe.
The B6165 takes the riders on via Wilsill and Glasshouses to Pateley Bridge.
In Pateley Bridge, the elite women head down the High Street, then over the Nidd.
They turn right on Low Wath Road. (Here, they are on the route of a Côte de Lofthouse ride I recommend, starting and finishing in Harrogate).
Low Wath Road is nice, rolling, twisting road which follows the Nidd further upstream. It is nice to cycle, but can be busier with traffic than you might expect, so on a normal day you have to be careful.
One disturbing thing about Low Wath Road is the sheer number of hedgehogs, rabbits, and other animals killed by vehicles, especially in spring and early summer. You'd think that wildlife was so abundant as to be inexhaustible, and that its value was zero; or that roadkill was somehow inevitable. None of those things is true. Wildlife is under pressure as never before, and attitudes must change rapidly so that it is valued. North Yorkshire County Council should reduce the speed limit, and people who regularly drive the road could be asked to slow down and to be careful to avoid running over animals.
The road travels along the south west side of Gouthwaite reservoir, and reaches Ramsgill.
At Ramsgill, the road crosses the Nidd. The road continues, with just a little up then down, to Lofthouse. This is where the Lofthouse climb begins.
In Lofthouse, the riders take a right fork, and start climbing through part of the village. This climb featured on Stage 2 of the Tour de Yorkshire 2017.
Beyond the houses, the road rises steeply up towards the moors.
The details of the climb are: height at the bottom 179m, height at the top 427m, so a height gain of 248m, over a distance of 2.9km; average gradient about 9%. According to visitharrogate, the maximum gradient is 25%, on the main left hand bend; that certainly feels like the steepest bit when you're going up it. (If you look at this climb on veloviewer, the start and finish heights given are wrong).
The other name for this climb, and the road name, is Trapping Hill. That gives a clue to an activity which has gone on here in the past, and continues. It is connected with grouse shooting, which is practised on the moors above Lofthouse. According to the RSPB's raptor persecution map, this area is a blackspot for the illegal killing of birds of prey.
At the top of the climb, there's a great view towards the North York Moors.
The race route descends the other side of the Lofthouse climb. While it isn't the most technical descent ever, there are some steep sections, and bends to negotiate. The road reaches Leighton reservoir, and a bridge takes the elite women over the point where Grimes Gill enters the reservoir.
The route continues with a dip down to the river Burn, and back up the other side. Then it's a rolling road through the small-but-charming villages of Healey and Fearby, before arriving in Masham.
In Masham, the elite women turn right on Westholme Road, then continue on Red Lane, Park Street, and Church Street to the edge of the Market Place. Then Silver Street takes them to the A6108, and they go down to Masham Bridge and over the river Ure.
Leaving Masham, the riders follow the main A6108. There are no hills or tight bends, but there's a small hill to descend into West Tanfield. Here, the elite women are on the same road the elite men will use the following day.
Still on the A6108, it should be a fast run to North Stainley.
The riders pass the entrance to Lightwater Valley. The road continues to Ripon.
In Ripon, the competitors turn right on North Street, and go along the west side of the market place. They then turn right on Westgate/Park Street, passing Spa Park. Then there's a left fork on the B6265 Studley Road, to pass Ripon Rugby Club and cross the river Laver. The riders will pass the turn to Studley Roger, and go past Studley Royal Garden Centre, then turn left on Abbey Road which takes them along the west edge of Studley Royal. They'll see St Mary's church and the Obelisk.
After a left turn, the road descends towards the west gate of the Fountains Abbey estate. There's a sharp bend to the left on the descent, and a sharp right onto Fountains Bridge, which crosses the river Skell.
I saw Lizzie Deignan here on New Year's Day 2019, cycling in the opposite direction to the race route. She should have the advantage of local knowledge, and the motivation to win in Yorkshire. With a bit of luck, she could be World Champion again.
After crossing the Skell, the route forks right, following the Monk Wall (presumably an old boundary of the Abbey's territory) up past Green Bank Wood.
Next, there's a descent past Hebden Bridge House (not the Hebden Bridge) to Hebden Beck.
It's followed by a climb up the other side of Hebden Beck, through Hebden Wood. The elite men's ITT will have come this way during the week. The professionals may make the short climb seem easy, but I found it hard.
After getting to the top of the hill, there's a straight and fairly flat section, past Duke's Place.
The Chequers Inn comes just before a right turn to Bishop Thornton. In the village of Bishop Thornton, there's a near right-angle bend to the left.
Another sharp left bend at Cut Throat Lane marks the start of a steep descent to Shaw Mills (or W Mills, as the sign would have it).
There's a sharp bend to the right at the bottom of the hill, and to the left when crossing Thornton Beck in Shaw Mills. The road (Pye Lane) climbs the other side of Shaw Mills, but it's a nice steady gradient.
The route crosses the B6165, and follows Clint Bank down to the river Nidd at Birstwith. A blue and yellow bike at the Station Hotel testifies to the fact that the Tour de Yorkshire has been this way.
Although Birstwith has a Station Hotel, it no longer has a station, nor a railway. As I mentioned above, the dismantled railway could soon be turned into an extension to the Nidderdale Greenway.
The route passes the Post Office and shop on the way out of Birstwith. There's a short but fairly steep climb up to Clapham Green (14%, according to the road sign). Then it's downhill to cross Tang Beck, and arrive at Hampsthwaite, another village on the river Nidd.
In Hampsthwaite, the riders turn right and head up Grayston Plain Lane. Where the lane meets the A59, there's a Tour de France yellow bike, and another bike with polka-dot King of the mountains paintwork, and some UCI rainbow band tape on the handlebars and stem.
It's a short distance along the A59, past the Nelson Inn, to the New Park roundabout on the northern edge of Harrogate. The riders turn right there, and take the A61 uphill past the Claro Beagle. Then they descend a little, turn right on Swan Road, turn left on Crescent Road, and go right up Parliament Street to West Park to cross the start/finish line for the first time.
The women's road race finishes with three laps of the Harrogate circuit. It takes in Penny Pot Lane, and the weak bridge over Oak Beck.
At the end of the third lap, the elite women reach the finish line on West Park, and we'll see who will be World Champion.
All photos © HedgehogCycling. To enquire about using any images, get in touch.
Lizzy Deignan, Annemiek van Vleuten, Anna van der Breggen.
Annemiek van Vleuten is the time trial World Champion 2017 and 2018. On her website, she says that when she won her first Dutch national time trial title in 2007 '...I never dared dream that ten years later I would become World Champion in the discipline. I've achieved many of my goals in recent years. Now I dream of being World Champion on the road.'
So it is clear that the road race is Annemiek van Vleuten's top priority in Yorkshire in 2019. What she sets her sights on, she often achieves.
The elite women's individual time trial at the UCI road World Championships 2019 in Yorkshire.
Read about the women's ITT.
Bradford is city with a population of over 530,000.
Otley is a town of around 14,000 people on the river Wharfe, in the Metropolitan Borough of Leeds, and in West Yorkshire. It has a thriving cycle club, and Lizzie Deignan, who is from Otley, is the club's patron.
Read about Otley.
Pateley Bridge is a small market town in Nidderdale, in the Harrogate Borough, with a population of 1,437 (2017 estimate).
It was first mentioned in a document in 1175. It belonged to the Archbishop of York, and in 1320, he granted a charter for a market and a fair. Until 1964, a railway line ran to Pateley Bridge. The trackbed could be used to extend the Nidderdale Greenway to Pateley.
Pateley Bridge has a large park, and a pool and leisure centre. It is home to the Nidderdale Museum, and on the route of the Nidderdale Way. As well as several pubs, it has the oldest sweet shop in England.
The moors above Lofthouse are given over to grouse shooting. It is estimated that 4% of England is devoted to grouse shooting, and it's certainly a much larger proportion of the Yorkshire Dales and the Nidderdale AONB.
Grouse shooting allows the owners of these uplands to make an income from the land, as they can charge large sums for days out shooting grouse. If the moors weren't managed for grouse, there is a question as to what would happen to them, and whether it could be worse from an environmental point of view.
However, there are acute concerns about the impacts of grouse moors' practices.
They burn heather in rotation, to provide areas of young shoots for grouse to eat, but the burning damages invertebrate and amphibian populations, reduces Sphagnum moss, and dries out peat, resulting in the release of carbon into the atmosphere. Although many grouse moors have signed up to an agreement to cease rotational burning, it is voluntary so unenforceable, and doesn't include all types of burning.
The Yorkshire moors are still being burnt, as anyone who has been out in the autumn and winter will have seen with their own eyes. In February 2019, the Wharfedale Observer reported on a fire started deliberately by the grouse shooting estate on Askwith Moor; the fire blazed out of control, and the fire brigade had to be called.
On the face of it, the voluntary agreement on burning appears to be a sham, and/or totally ineffective. It would be appropriate for the government or Natural England to publish data (not propaganda) to show how the agreement is or isn't working.
Medicated grit fed to the grouse has a negative effect on invertebrates.
In order to achieve the highest possible density of grouse, gamekeepers kill predators like foxes, stoats, weasels, and crows, by shooting them or setting metal spring traps. It is often described as 'routine predator control', but killing so much wildlife won't seem routine to most people. The absence of predators provides incidental benefits to ground-nesting birds such as lapwing and curlew. Nevertheless, genuinely thriving ecosystems require predators.
Perhaps the biggest concern of all is the correlation between grouse moors and the illegal killing of protected birds of prey. The RSPB have a raptor persecution map, and unfortunately, the moors above Lofthouse are a blackspot, with recorded incidents including the shooting of a hen harrier, and poisoning of red kites.
On 19th March 2019, the BBC reported on a 10-year study of hen harriers carried out by Natural England, two universities, and RSPB Scotland. It concluded that hen harriers, a protected species, are disappearing on English grouse moors due to illegal killing.
Satellite-tagged hen harriers were 10 times more likely to die or vanish on or near areas used for shooting, than in other places. When birds disappeared, and the tag stopped transmitting and was never found, it strongly suggested destruction of the tag and removal of the carcass. The researchers say there is no plausible explanation other than illegal killing.
Juvenile hen harriers in England have a low survival rates compared with the Orkneys, where there are no managed grouse moors. The researchers' said, 'We conclude that the increased likelihood of mortality is associated with illegal killing of this species on grouse moors.'
If grouse shooting is only viable when carried on in association with criminal practices, it should be stopped altogether.
Masham has a population of 1,205 (2011 census). Its name is Anglo-Saxon in origin, coming from Maessa's Ham, meaning homestead or village belonging to Maessa.
A settlement was built here by the Angles, probably because the site is close to the river Ure, but rises just high enough above it to be safe from flooding. It is also on the old Roman road from York to Wensleydale. (Signs of a Roman presence, likely a marching camp, have been found at Roomer Common).
In about 900AD, Vikings invaded, and destroyed the church at Masham. The present church has the stump of a prayer cross from the 700s, but most of the structure is Norman, with some additions from the C15th. It was the Vikings who introduced sheep to the region.
The most striking feature of Masham is its very big market place. The town was granted a charter for a market in 1250, and the market place needed to be large to accommodate the many sheep brought here by the monks of Jervaulx and Fountains Abbeys. There's a market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Masham is known for it breweries - Theakstons and Black Sheep. The Theakson family had brewed Theakstons beer in Masham for six generations, but the Theakstons brewery was taken over by Scottish & Newcastle. Rather than work for a multi-national, Paul Theakston set up a new brewery in an old building (the former premises of Lightfoot's brewery) in Masham, and the Black Sheep Brewery was born in 1992. Black Sheep is available in many of the pubs in and around Masham. The brewery also has a visitor centre.
The Theakston family regained control of Theakstons in 2003, and this brewery also has a visitor centre. Their best known beer is Old Peculiar.
Events in Masham include the Steam Engine & Fair Organ Rally, and the bi-annual Arts Festival.
The name 'Tanfield' probably comes from Old English, and means field where young shoots grow. After the Norman conquest, the land here was owned by Norman nobility; it was in the hands of the Norman Marmion family until 1387.
The Marmion family lived in a dwelling called the Hermitage, later referred to as Tanfield Castle after it was crenellated. In the 1400s, a gatehouse was added, known as the Marmion Tower. The Hermitage/castle no longer exists, but the marmalade tower is still standing, and is looked after by English Heritage. It is free to visit, and you can go up the stairs to the first floor and look out of the Oriel window.
William, Kate, and Harry watched Stage 1 of the Tour de France here in 2014. No doubt the UCI World Championships 2019 will be another big event in West Tanfield, and the local people will make it special and spectacular.
Ripon is said to be the 4th smallest city in England, with a population of 16,702 (2011 census). It is at the confluence of the rivers Laver, Skell, and Ure.
There was no known Roman presence at Ripon (the nearest military camp being at North Stainley). Ripon was founded by St Wilfrid during the Angle kingdom of Northumbria, around 658AD, at the time that he brought craftsmen from the continent to build the church of St Peter. The settlement was then known as Inhrypum.
The area was under Viking rule for a time. Following the Norman invasion, there was a rebellion in the north in 1069, which was suppressed ('the Harrying of the North'). Ripon suffered at this time, and its population was reduced.
In the 1100s, Ripon developed a wool trade, selling to Florentine merchants, and in the 1300s, it began making and selling cloth. In the 1500s and 1600s, Ripon became a specialist in spurs - hence the expression, 'as true steel as Ripon rowells.'
During the time of Edward I and Edward II (1200s and 1300s), there were incursions by invaders from Scotland, and Ripon had a wakeman, who was responsible for the safety of the city, and enforcing a curfew. (Nevertheless, Ripon had to pay a sum of money to the Scots on one occasion to prevent them burning the city).
The tradition of the wakeman lives on in the Ripon Hornblower. At 9pm, a horn is blown from the four corners of the obelisk on market square, in a ceremony known as 'setting the watch.' (It is claimed that this has happened every evening since 886AD).
The crypt of Ripon Cathedral dates from the mid-600s, when the first stone church was built here (dedicated to St Peter in 672AD). St Wilfrid was responsible for the first church, and he is interred in a tomb in the Cathedral. (He is also celebrated in the annual St Wilfrid's procession).
Subsequent churches were destroyed by the English king in 948, and during the Harrying of the North in 1069. Much of the present structure was built in the 1100s under Roger de Pont l'Eveque, but the Early English west front dates from the 1200s, and the nave was rebuilt in the 1500s and 1600s in Perpendicular style. It became a Cathedral in 1836.
There has been racing in Ripon since 1664, but the current racecourse dates from 1900.
Studley Royal Park includes the ruins of Fountains Abbey. (You pay an entrance fee to visit Fountains Abbey, but Studley Royal Deer Park is free).
Fountains Abbey was founded in 1132 as a Cistercian monastery.
At the time of the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII (1539), the Abbey buildings and adjacent land were sold to Sir Richard Gresham. Later, Stephen Proctor bought them, and he built Fountains Hall between 1598 and 1604.
The Mallory family lived at Studley Royal from 1452. John Aislabie inherited the estate in 1693. He was involved in the South Sea Company, which failed disastrously, and after that, he devoted himself to the garden at Studley Royal. His son William united Studley Royal and Fountains by buying Fountains Abbey and Hall in 1742. (The Water Garden created by John and William Aislabie is in the paying part of the estate).
Studley Royal House burned down in 1946, but a large stable block (which dates from 1728-32) survived, and is now a private house.
The whole estate was bought by West Riding County Council in 1966, and by the National Trust in 1983.
Find out more about Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal water garden and deer park.
Harrogate is a town of about 75,000 people, in North Yorkshire.
Its mineral waters were discovered in the 1500s, and it grew as a spa town in the centuries that followed. Many of the spa facilities were built in Queen Victoria's time.
You can visit the Royal Pump Rooms museum, drink the foul sulphur water from a tap outside (not advised), or dip into the Turkish Baths.
These days, Harrogate's economy is still partly based on tourism and visitors. It has a major Convention Centre, the Great Yorkshire Showground, and many good hotels.
Attractions include the RHS garden at Harlow Carr, the Valley Gardens, and Betty's tea rooms.
Read more about Harrogate.