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Leeds welcomes world elite to a new Millennium

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Millennium Square in Leeds will host the start of the men’s road race at the 2019 UCI Road World Championships.

Leeds was this week confirmed as the starting point for the blue riband event at next year’s cycling extravaganza.

Cycling enthusiasts at Leeds Urban Bike Park on Thursday.

Cycling enthusiasts at Leeds Urban Bike Park on Thursday.

And even though much of the 284.5km course will stir echoes of that famous Grand Depart stage of the 2014 Tour de France, a different starting point is one of the many subtle nuances.

Four years ago, the grandest of Grand Departs began in front of hundreds of thousands of fans on the Headrow.

But on September 29 next year, the world’s best cyclists will set the wheels turning on their quest for the rainbow jersey in Millennium Square.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said: “Seeing the world’s best cyclists compete on our roads with the route lined with people cheering them on promises to be another brilliant event, and as we know from what happened after the Tour de France, it will further inspire more people to get out on bikes in Leeds taking advantage of the significant investment in cycling infrastructure.”

Yesterday morning in Leeds, evidence of the world championship legacy was in action.

A £15million funding injection will be channelled directly into local community cycling facilities, delivered through Sport England, as part of the staging of the event.

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Scott Thwaites, from Burley-in-Wharefdale, paid a visit to Leeds Urban Bike Park to see the positive work being done.

The 28-year-old said: “I’m a proud Yorkshireman, so having venues such as Leeds Urban Bike Park open up in the region and do so well is fantastic.

“People of all ages and backgrounds up and down the country are making the most of facilities like this, and I imagine that will continue for many years to come with races like the world championships on home soil.”