The Richmond region has been chosen as the site for the 2014 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships.
Organizers say the race, set for early May 2014, will serve as a preparatory run for the much larger 2015 UCI Road World Championships to be held here in September 2015.
The announcement that Richmond will host the 2014 college event was made late Saturday during the awards banquet for this year’s championships in Ogden, Utah.
Speaking from Utah, Micah Rice, vice president of national events for USA Cycling, said Richmond was chosen from a pool of bidders that included Asheville and Winston-Salem, N.C.; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Lincoln, Neb.
Rice said holding the race in the Richmond region will benefit the college cycling organization and the organizers of the world championships event.
“This will bring college riders and their families and support teams to the city,” he said. “Richmond gets to prepare for the 2015 event. And these college kids will get to compete on the exact same course that will test the world’s greatest cyclists in 2015.”
Richmond 2015, the local organization responsible for staging and marketing the world championships, updated Richmond officials about the collegiate cycling organization’s decision to come here next year just hours before the announcement, according to City Council President Charles R. Samuels.
Lee Kallman, Richmond 2015’s marketing and communications director, said that while courses for the races have not been finalized, “the appropriate working groups are in the loop.”
Kallman said he also has talked with officials at Richmond International Raceway to make sure the collegiate event does not conflict with the weekend for the track’s spring NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
Rice said the 2014 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships will bring about 400 athletes representing more than 100 colleges to the Richmond region for the three-day event.
By contrast, the 2015 UCI Road World Championships will last nine days. The international event is expected to attract 450,000 spectators, 1,000 athletes, 6,000 officials and 1,000 journalists.
The races will require 400 hours of broadcast coverage and draw a worldwide television audience projected at 300 million. The event is expected to draw media outlets from 35 countries.
Rice said a requirement of winning the bid to stage the world championships is to hold a test event.
“We were discussing whether Richmond should hold a pro-am event, an invitational, a professional race, an amateur event,” he said. “Then we started talking about the collegiate championships. That seemed like the perfect fit.”
He said the college event will be large enough to serve as a shakedown run for the 2015 race but small enough to be managed without major disruptions.
Wilson H. Flohr Jr., CEO of Richmond 2015, said the collegiate event “will provide an outstanding opportunity for us to test and refine our courses, logistics and processes before 2015.”
USA Cycling is a nationwide organization with 11 regional conferences, collections of clubs representing colleges and universities split into two divisions based on school size.
The Atlantic Collegiate Cycling Conference includes clubs from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.
Virginia clubs in Division I represent Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Virginia, James Madison University and Virginia Tech.
State Division II clubs represent the University of Richmond, the College of William and Mary and Christopher Newport University.
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