The wait is over and Richmonders can finally begin to visualize what it would take to be a professional cyclist zooming through the streets of Richmond on the same courses that will be run for the World Championships in 2015.
Richmond 2015 has announced the courses for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships and the 2014 USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals — both to be held in the Richmond area. The announcement was held Tuesday at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, mapping out the four courses where races will be run when the World Championships are held here Sept. 19-27, 2015, and when the Collegiate Road Nationals will come to the region, May 2-4, 2014.
“There were hundreds of people involved in the planning process,” said Tim Miller, chief operating officer of Richmond 2015. “I'm happy to finally get this off my chest” in regards to the question he said he has been getting for the past couple of years at every community meeting, party, bike event, etc. — people want to know where the courses will run.
Historic roadways covered in Belgian pavers or cobblestone seemed to be preferred by the organizers — especially if the road was also on a hill. If you've been monitoring progress through repaving, it may have been easier to see which roadways may be selected due to the schedule the City of Richmond has maintained. Streets like Main, 9th, 5th, Broad, Riverside Drive and more have been repaved and beautified in within the past two years, but not all made the cut.
There are three main types of courses: Team & individual time trials, criterium and road circuit. Three main factors were considered in the selection of the courses: competition, tourism and impact. “If all we had to consider was competition, this would be easy,” Miller said.
The courses have been posted to the Richmond2015 website. and descriptions are available from Richmond 2015. They will take cyclists and spectators as far away from the city as Kings Dominion through the roads of rural Hanover County and as far east as eastern Henrico County and the Richmond National Battlefield Park at Fort Harrison. In the city, the courses are highlighted by races through Monument Avenue, Governor's Street, Broad, Main, Dock, Belvidere streets and one fantastic crossing of the Robert E. Lee Bridge. The cobblestones of Shockoe Slip, Libby Hill Park and 23rd Street in Church Hill will all challenge cyclists and spectators alike.
All races will end on East Broad Street at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, which will be the hub of events for both cycling championships. There will be plenty of fan zones and hospitality tents along the courses for each of the nine days of competition for the Worlds, Miller said.
“Obviously we had to show off Monument Avenue and Shockoe Slip…it wouldn't be Richmond without them,” Miller said. The cobblestones will be a challenge for cyclists, but they have been run during cycling events before he said, including the steep 19 percent slope of 23rd Street up into Church Hill near historic St. John's Church.
“From a city standpoint, we're already stepping up our preparations,” said Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “We're going to show the world the entire region.” The city has been making a big push to improve sidewalks and streetscapes. These implementations are part of the effort to showcase the roadways and corridors as potential course routes.
Many of the roadways selected for the courses have been used in previous Richmond cycling events, like the Tour of America, Tour DuPont, Tour de Trump, Tour de Richmond, Tour of America, CapTech Classic and more. There were annual professional cycling events held in the region in the 1980s and 90s and the expectation is that the 2015 UCI Road World Championships will bring back some of that enthusiasm— as well as cycling fans from all over the world.
“Hosting a World Championship is a major undertaking,” said UCI President Brian Cookson, acknowledging the hard work he has seen Richmond put into organizing the event, which will be a qualifier for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic games.
USA Cycling President and CEO Steve Johnson said that cycling is “predominantly seen as a Western European sport…it is rare for U.S. athletes to perform for their home crowd.” Hosting the World Championships will be a great opportunity to showcase our athletes and cycling on American soil he said, adding that it is a “beautiful spectacle of one of the most exciting sports in the world.”
On Tuesday, March 4 Richmond 2015 will launch a series of “Prologue” events around the region to engage neighborhoods and communities about the details of both Championship events. Richmond 2015 is alsoasking for volunteers to help staff the events, beginning with the Collegiate Road Nationals in May.
Richmond 2015, Inc. is the independent non¬profit corporation responsible for the organization, management and promotion of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, which is projected to generate approximately $158 million in economic impact, 450,000 onsite spectators and a global television audience of more than 300 million viewers. The event will bring more than 1,500 of the world’s top cyclists for both men and women and for several age groups. The Worlds will make its first return to American soil since 1986 (Colorado).
The UCI Road World Championships is cycling's pinnacle event, held annually in an international city as chosen by the UCI, the sport's governing body. The 2013 World Championships was held in Florence, Italy, in September. The 2014 Worlds will be in Ponferrada, Spain and the 2016 Worlds will be in Doha, Qatar.
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