CYCLING fans have lined the streets of Otley and Ilkley to cheer on some of the world’s best riders.

The 2019 UCI Road World Championships came to Wharfedale - and the Washburn Valley - last weekend.

The area welcomed the Women’s Elite Road Race on Saturday, September 28 and then the Men’s Elite race on Sunday, September 29.

The women’s race, featuring Otley’s Lizzie Deignan, set off from Bradford and passed through Menston, Otley and Norwood Edge on its winding, 149.5km route to Harrogate.

The 280km Men’s race, meanwhile, started from Leeds on Sunday and proceeded along a route that took in Otley, Ilkley and Addingham.

On both days big crowds turned out to cheer on the riders as they headed through local towns and villages, despite some heavy downpours on the final day.

Jill Birch from Otley Cycle Club was among those enjoying the action. She said: “It was great to see the crowds out in Otley on Sunday, despite the early start and the rain.

“And on Saturday it was amazing to see the peloton give Lizzie the honour of leading through Otley. This is a tradition in cycling that has tended to happen less frequently in recent years, so it was fantastic to see the respect that the other riders have for Lizzie.”

Otley Town Councillor Ray Georgeson (Lib Dem, Danefield) said: “Otley turned out in tremendous numbers to cheer on hometown heroine Lizzie Deignan who was roared through the town in sunshine.

“The atmosphere in town was very cheerful, Otley really has taken to welcoming these great international cycling events.

“While Sunday was very wet, the Otley crowd again simply put on their coats and gave a great welcome to the Elite Men’s race.

“Many people worked hard to put on a good show in Otley and their efforts are much appreciated, but I’d like to say a special thank you to Bob Brook of Otley Pub Club, who has worked very hard indeed on making their Pub Nations project such a popular success.

“The town council was pleased to sponsor this project and it was a huge enhancement to the festival atmosphere in town.”

Otley Town Mayor Councillor Peter Jackson said: "Otley was certainly put on the map during the UCI cycle races, with pubs and bars flying the flag of their adopted nation.

"I had the pleasure on Friday to meet several Belgium cyclists including a former world Champion at the North bar Social.

"Then Saturday I was with a team of Americans from RAF Menwith Hill who came into Otley to celebrate at The Stew and Oyster where Otley Pub Club members, including mascot Mr Pinty, were also attending.

"It was magnificent to see so many people lining the streets to cheer the cyclists on and a great view of our own Lizzie Deignan as she led the pack through Otley.

"We must be so proud that so many cycling events come through our historically renowned cycling town."

Otley Pub Club President Greg Mulholland added:  "It was a thrill to have the women's and men's UCI World Cycling Championship elite races coming through Otley and once again the town and its famous pubs rose to the occasion.

"There was a great response to the Otley Pub Club Pub Nations project, with all the pubs and bars sporting the flag and translated name of their adopted nation. 

"Well done to all the pubs who got involved and above all a huge congratulations and thanks to Bob Brook, who coordinated Pub Nations for the club."

In the women’s race Annemiek van Vleuten triumphed to give the Netherlands its first individual gold medal of the championships.

Former world champion Lizzie Deignan, riding for Great Britain, received very vocal support as she rode through her hometown and neighbouring communities.

She said: “Today was absolutely phenomenal and a massive privilege to be able to experience.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to ride a home World Championships and I just want to say thank you to all those people who supported me. It’s a day I’ll never forget and I’m so proud of Yorkshire.

“Congratulations to Annemiek too, she was in a class of her own today.”

Mads Pedersen surprised many by winning the men’s race to give Denmark its first elite men’s title and round off what organisers Yorkshire 2019 hailed as ‘an incredible 92nd edition of the championships.”