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. (I'm told and believe that Norwood is pronounced 'Noh-rud'. 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%. Tejvan Pettinger, who has participated in hill climbs on Norwood Edge, has set out the details of the ascent. After 1.2 miles, the riders will reach the top (266m).
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 race route passes the Sun Inn.
Then it crosses the A59 at Dangerous Corner.
You might think that Dangerous Corner would be no place for chickens to live, but you'd be wrong.
Soon after Dangerous Corner, the race route 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. (Update: the Nelson Inn has changed its name to Chez la Vie, perhaps a good omen for P F-P).
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. It 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 to the small-but-charming village of Healey.
Not much further on is Fearby, a modest-size village with a bumper village green.
In the next 2km, the road drops about 50m, and reaches 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 descent to Shaw Mills (or W Mills, as the sign would have it).
It's quite steeply downhill.
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.