THE UCI Road World Championships take place in Yorkshire this month, with eight days of racing due to begin on Saturday. Chief Sports Writer Scott Wilson profiles five British riders who will be hoping to make an impact on their home roads


(Men’s elite time trial - Wednesday, September 25)

The Northern Echo:

The Tour de France winner will be one of the star attractions this week, and is due to compete in the elite time trial, which is staged on a 54km course between Northallerton and Harrogate next Wednesday.

Thomas began his cycling career on the track, winning World titles and Olympic gold medals, but switched exclusively to the roads in the wake of the London Olympics in 2012.

His first major road victory came in the road race at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and after riding as a domestique to help Chris Froome win the Tour de France in 2017, Thomas was promoted to the role of Team Sky’s lead rider for the 2018 Tour. He triumphed in emphatic fashion, becoming the first Welsh rider to win the Tour.

That resulted in him winning the 2018 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, and while he was unable to defend his title on this year’s Tour, his second-place finish behind Egan Bernal was still a notable achievement.

He warmed up for the World Championships with an outing in last weekend’s World Tour races in Quebec and Montreal, and will start as one of the favourites for what looks an open time trial. The 2018 winner, Tom Dumoulin, will not be defending his crown, while time-trial specialist Rohan Dennis is yet to confirm his presence in the field.


(Team Time Trial Mixed Relay - Sunday, September 22)

The Northern Echo:

Tanfield will be the first Yorkshire rider involved in the World Championships, having been confirmed as part of the British team for the inaugural team time trial mixed relay, which takes place on Sunday on a loop around Harrogate.

Based in Great Ayton, 24-year-old Tanfield forms part of a successful North Yorkshire cycling dynasty with his brother, Charlie, who is a specialist on the track.

Harry has made his mark on the roads, riding for the JLT-Condor, Pedal Heaven and Bike Channel-Canyon teams before switching to Team Katusha-Alpecin for the 2019 season.

His biggest success came in May 2018, when he won the opening stage of the Tour de Yorkshire between Beverley and Doncaster, becoming the first Yorkshire rider to win a stage on his home county’s Tour. He also finished second in the time trial at the National Road Championships.

He is part of a six-person British team in the team time trial mixed relay, racing with John Archibald, Dan Bigham, Lauren Dolan, Anna Henderson and Joss Lowden.

This is the first time the team relay has been staged at the World Championships, and the race will see the three male riders racing together as they complete a 14km lap around Harrogate. Once the second male rider crosses the line, the three female riders tackle the same route, with the final time being taken when the second woman crosses the finish line.


(Men’s elite road race - Sunday, September 29)

The Northern Echo:

Rotherham’s Ben Swift is set to be Great Britain’s team leader for the elite road race, which will be the final race staged at the World Championship when it takes place a week on Sunday.

The final make-up of Britain’s six-man road race is still to be confirmed, but Swift looks all but certain to act as the head of the line-up after triumphing in the road race at the National Championships earlier this year.

The 31-year-old has had a successful season, having made the decision to reject an offer from Lotto Soudal to re-join Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) on a one-year deal at the start of the year.

An injury-blighted spring meant he missed the early Classics, but he returned to form at the Tour de Suisse before claiming the National title. Strong showings at the Tour de Pologne and Tour of Germany followed, before Swift warmed up for the Worlds by recording three top-ten finishes in the first four stages of the recent Tour of Britain.

He could receive support from brothers Simon and Adam Yates, but should be Britain’s best chance of success in the 285km road race, which will be staged on a course between Leeds and Harrogate that encompasses large swathes of the Yorkshire Dales.

“We’re going all-in for Swifty,” said British Cycling coach Matt Brammeier. “Obviously, we’ll have a plan B and plan C if he’s not on it, but we’re all confident in him. He’s been thinking about this since he first saw the announcement about the Worlds being in Harrogate. Since then, he’s been all-in for it and getting better and better each day.”


(Women’s elite road race - Saturday September 28)

The Northern Echo:

Otley-based Deignan will be guaranteed plenty of host support, having been confirmed as the leader of the British squad for the women’s elite road race a week on Saturday.

The 149km race between Bradford and Harrogate takes in many of the roads that form part of her training routines, and the 30-year-old freely admits her entire season has been based around peaking at her home World Championships.

A former World road race champion from 2015, Deignan has also claimed four National road race titles as well as victories in the Tour of Flanders and Tour de Yorkshire. She won a silver medal in the road race at the London Olympics in 2012, becoming Britain’s first medallist of the Games in the process, and is also a former World champion on the track.

Deignan only returned to cycling in the spring, having taken an extended break from the sport following the birth of her first child.

She is the lead rider in a six-strong British women’s road race squad that also features Sheffield’s Lizzie Banks as well as Hannah and Alice Barnes, Nicky Juniper and Anna Henderson.

“It’s great to see so much strength in the British squad this year,” said Deignan. “Women’s cycling has come on so much in this country and there are some really talented riders joining me on the team. I look forward to racing with them.”


(Junior women’s road race - Friday September 27)

The Northern Echo:

A 17-year-old from the Ryedale village of Oswaldkirk, Smith will confirm her standing as one of the most exciting young prospects in the country when she competes in the junior women’s road race, which is staged between Doncaster and Harrogate a week on Friday.

A pupil at Ripon Grammar School, Smith has excelled at junior level in the last couple of seasons, earning her a call-up to British Cycling’s elite senior squad at the start of the year.

She switched to cycling after previously representing Britain in triathlon and mountain running, and won both the junior and senior races at this year’s Yorkshire Road Race Championships.

She was selected to compete in this summer’s senior National Track Championships in Manchester, racing as part of the top 23 female cyclists in the country against the likes of Olympic and World champions Laura Kenny, Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker.

She returns to the junior ranks for the Worlds, and will be hoping to put in a strong showing in front of family and friends.

“The competition will be the toughest I’ve ever faced,” said Smith. “Every country will be doing their all to get one of their riders to the line first, so it’s going to be really hard. It’s not so much winning, but just being selected is such a huge deal, and hopefully as a team we can deliver a great performance.”