On Friday morning, Richmond 2015 announced three changes for the race courses at the upcoming UCI World Championships of cycling. The information amounts to small morsels, but there is some significance here which bears scrutiny.
History fans will be pleased at the inclusion of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden for the start of the team time trial event. These gardens were the site of Richmond's first cycling club more than 100 years ago. The TTT is an event predicated on precision, and the wide and smooth start on Lakeside Avenue should allow riders an excellent opportunity to click into their groove. Six riders must work in a seamless transition of workload (alternately drafting or riding in the wind) to maximize speed and efficiency. Most teams will enjoy this chance to get dialed in to their rhythm — before being challenged to maintain it as they descend upon the city streets.
A small change made to the road races will result in a massively altered racing experience for the junior and U23 categories: Their races will now include the cruel and grueling 23rd Street climb originally slated for the Elite-level races only. The result should be a more unpredictable race toward the finale, although this newly intimidating course will likely quell initial race action, with riders saving their legs for the final laps.
Fans and Richmond residents will be pleased to hear that the road-race courses have been diverted away from Byrd Street and instead onto Broad and Main as the race lap heads east. This will open up exits for the downtown expressway, which otherwise would have been closed, and will reduce the course's footprint on downtown. Overall, the news today will see racers in September enjoying a beneficial tweak to their experience, with the rest of us seeing increased access to city streets.