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Rochester to host 2019 HSBC UK/National Circuit Championship

By Nicola Jordan

The nation's top cyclists will be competing in Medway next summer following British Cycling's announcement that one of the highlights of the elite road racing calendar will be focused on Rochester.

The town will host the 2019 HSBC UK/National Circuit Championship which is expected to attract thousands of spectators across the country.

Professional male and female riders will be going head-to-head in a race along the cobbled streets passing historic sights to earn the title of national champion on Sunday July 21.

Pix are of the Tour de France as the bikes go by Rochester Cathedral and Castle. Picture by Jim Rantell (6011199)
Pix are of the Tour de France as the bikes go by Rochester Cathedral and Castle. Picture by Jim Rantell (6011199)

Previous national circuit champions include Katie Archibald, Tom Pidcock, Joanna Rowsell Shand and Lizzie Deignan.

Although the precise course will be unveiled nearer the time, Rochester will provide a stunning backdrop with its Norman castle, ancient cathedral and river esplanade.

Jonathan Rigby, British Cycling commercial director, said: “We’re thrilled to award the 2019 HSBC UK | National Circuit Championships to Rochester in Medway.

"The area is steeped in history, and will provide a wonderfully picturesque backdrop to what will be some fantastic racing."

Medway Council leader Cllr Alan Jarrett said: “We are delighted British Cycling has awarded Medway the honour of hosting.

"The historic town of Rochester will provide a spectacular, challenging and an exhilarating course for both the men and women’s races.

“The event is expected to attract thousands of visitors to the area keen to see the cyclists competing, and giving local businesses a boost and putting Medway firmly on the map.

Cyclists passing Rochester Castle during the 2007 Tour de France
Cyclists passing Rochester Castle during the 2007 Tour de France

"It will also provide a fantastic day for local people and I hope as many residents as possible are able to get out and support this national cycling event.

“Medway has a strong link to cycling, having previously hosted a stage of the Tour de France.

"We have invested in providing more than 70 miles of on and off-road cycling routes and opened a new BMX pump track for riders of all abilities to enjoy.

"Medway has a strong cycling community with many local clubs, and I am looking forward to seeing and hearing the crowds cheer in support of Britain’s top cyclists.”

The announcement has been welcomed by traders and cycling enthusiasts.

Godfrey George, who runs Baggins book shop said: "While it might cause a little bit of disruption business-wise, anything that puts Rochester on the map has to be a good thing."

Crowds watching the 2007 Tour de France through Rochester
Crowds watching the 2007 Tour de France through Rochester

Chris Fullerton, a sports lecturer at the University of Kent and keen cyclist, said: "It's very exciting. Cycling has always been big in Medway and this a real coup for the area."

Sarah Tranter, chairman of Rochester City Centre Forum, said: "Hopefully Rochester will benefit from this exciting event and I also hope it will inspire a lot of people to lead a healthier way of life."

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