For just the second time in its 82-year history, the UCI Road World Cycling Championships will be held in the United States, with Richmond serving as host for the 2015 event. Courses for the 12 championship races were unveiled Tuesday, outlining the downtown Richmond streets that some of the world’s best cyclists will navigate during the nine-day event from Sept. 19-27 of next year.
Organizers hope putting one of the sport’s most prestigious international events in the United States will help the rehabilitation of cycling’s image stateside in the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.
“What the Lance Armstrong case taught us was that, whoever you are or whatever field you’re in, if you’ve built a career on cheating, the truth will eventually come out,” UCI President Brian Cookson said.“We’re working to break the problem of doping in our sport and I think an event like this can help us continue to make progress in cycling in America and across the world.”
Though next year’s UCI World Championships are more than 18 months away, two of the four courses unveiled Tuesday will be used during this year’s USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals in early May. The collegiate race will in turn serve as a gauge for Richmond officials on how to better manage the impact on the city’s residents, accommodate the 450,000 expected spectators and make any necessary tweaks to the course prior to next year.
“The unique thing about cycling is it takes place in the public right of way and with what’s added by television imagery, it can be a very powerful tool for tourism,” Richmond 2015 COO Tim Miller said. “But because it takes place in the public right of way, roads have to be closed and residents can be affected, so to have a test event as a true training experience is invaluable.”
The UCI World Championships is one of three legs, along with the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, that make up the Triple Crown of Cycling. The competition, which is divided into elite, junior and under-23 categories for men and women, features four courses across 12 events, ranging from 15 miles for the time trials to 150 miles for the traditional road races. About 1,000 cyclists are expected to compete in the series of one-day events, with the winner of each category entitled to wear the rainbow jersey in races leading up to the next UCI World Championships.
In a bidding process similar to the Olympics, Richmond was chosen in September 2011 as host for next year’s championships, marking the first time a U.S. city has been awarded the event since Colorado Springs in 1986.