For the better part of three years, say officials with Richmond 2015, the No. 1 question they’ve been asked about the cycling championships coming to the region was: Just where will the racecourses go?
On Tuesday, the committee finally gave an answer, presenting four videos and animated map sequences showing the various routes that will serve as the competitive grounds for the 2014 College National Road Cycling Championships this May and the 2015 UCI World Road Cycling Championships.
Anticipation was high in the packed lecture hall at the Greater Richmond Convention Center as the committee’s executive director, Tim Miller, took the podium after a procession of dignitaries. Preceding him were Mayor Dwight Jones, Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Sen. Mark Warner, who was represented via pre-taped video remarks touting the “transformational change” — a growing bike culture and investments in infrastructure — that the impending events already have brought to the region.
“Quite honestly, I’m just excited to get this off my chest,” Miller quipped, drawing a roar of tension-breaking laughter as he prepared to unveil the racecourses in a series of four large-screen videos. The presentations offered an animated tracing of racing circuits that variously traverse the city, Hanover County and Henrico County and that all finish on East Broad Street in front of the convention center. The courses all incorporate the same final kilometer stretch with some challenging downtown features — steep climbs and cobblestone surfaces, most notably.
The Richmond 2015 event, Miller explained, will feature 12 professional races over nine days, including junior men’s and women’s divisions — riders younger than 23 — as well as pro men and women. The UCI cycling event will feature both team and individual races of different varieties. Road races traverse a course with competitors starting in one general group and riding to the finish. Time trials challenge individual riders or teams to negotiate an open course with their best time possible.
Also in attendance yesterday were Brian Cookson, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale, the governing body that oversees the world championships, and Steven Johnson, president of USA Cycling, which sanctions the collegiate event.
Johnson noted that when the UCI race comes to town, it will be only the second time in its 87-year history that the world championship has come to the United States. The first U.S. staging was in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1986.
Cookson praised the amount of challenge facing the elite-level women and men on some of the urban features. He noted a partially cobblestoned Libby Hill incline that cyclists will ride up to Church Hill. “It would surely get a place in the Tour of Flanders if it were in Belgium,” he said.
Starting next week, Richmond 2015 will hold a series of local events to discuss details of both Championship events. The schedule is as follows:
Tuesday, March 4, at Hanover Tavern, 13181 Hanover Court House Road, 6.30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 5, Richmond's Main Street Station, 1500 E. Main St., 6:30 pm
Thursday, March 6, John Rolfe Middle School, 6901 Messer Road in Henrico, 6:30 pm
Monday, March 10, Glen Allen Cultural Arts Center, 2880 Mountain Road, 6:30 pm
Tuesday, March 11, Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 W. Broad St., 6:30 pm
Wednesday, March 12,WCVE, 23 Sesame St., 6:30 pm