Cloudy skies and the threat of rain did not deter thousands from packing Broad Street near the finish line for today's Junior Men's Road Race and the Women's Elite Race. The weather held all day as veteran cycling fans from afar — and newly minted local cycling aficianados — rang cowbells, cheered and snapped photo after photo as the cyclists came whizzing by, both races ending with surging wins from 17-year-old Austrian Felix Gall and English rider Lizzie Armitstead.
Hup Holland Hup!
Martine de Wit and Herman Pruisken cheer for Anna van der Breggen and other Dutch riders during the Women's Elite Road Race on Broad Street.
Martine de Wit and Herman Pruisken of Rotterdam have been visiting Richmond for 10 days to attend what is their 14th UCI Road World Championships. The couple is staying in Glen Allen — “It’s good, we’ve only been sleeping there,” de Wit says. They give the region high marks for friendliness and say they’ve enjoyed shopping in Carytown and dining at Can Can.
Today, they are rooting for Dutch rider Anna Van der Breggen, who took second place in the elite women’s race, and tomorrow, during the men’s elite race, they will be cheering on “all the boys from Holland,” Pruisken says.
Come Monday, after the races, they will drive to Orlando for a few days, then head to Key West.
Leading the Race
(From left) Grant, Joanne, Maddie and Tim Miller, COO of Richmond 2015, prepare to lead the Elite Women's Road Race.
It’s 10 minutes before the start of the UCI Elite Women’s Road Race and 11-year-old Grant Miller peers wide-eyed out the back window of a Lexus sedan. The car is parked a few blocks from the start of the race on Broad Street and his father, Tim Miller, chief operating officer of Richmond 2015, sits in the driver’s seat. His sister Maddie rides in front. Mom Joanne — and his grandparents — are packed into the backseat with him as they prepare to drive the race course, leading the caravan of support vehicles, camera crews and cyclists through the streets of Richmond. They plan to stop on Libby Hill to watch the women cyclists climb the cobblestones.
Though he hasn’t seen much of his dad this week, Grant says he’s proud of the work he’s done to bring the race to Richmond. “It’s pretty big,” he says of his first UCI Road World Championship experience. ““It feels weird that it’s in Richmond, Virginia, and it’s usually in some big country or something.”
Service with a Smile
VCU student Shail Patel of Gujrat, India, provides hospitality support in the VIP tent where the most important job is to "just keep smiling," he says.
Virginia Commonwealth University student Shail Patel, 20, of Gujrat, India, says he’s volunteering at the race because “I like to stay busy.” Patel, a forensic science major, has been so busy all week that this is the first day he has made it to the UCI races. Though most of VCU was closed during the races, Patel says he was required to attend classes and even had a mid-term test.
Today he is working a double shift doing hospitality support in the VIP tent. “People come in and I check their wristbands and just keep smiling,” he says. “But that’s kind of my usual job.”
Preparing for 2016
Abdullah al Hamadi of Qatar provides Fan Zone visitors with information about Dohar, Qatar, next year's UCI Road World Championships location.
Qatar Cycling Federation board member Abdullah al Hamadi of Qatar is visiting Richmond to prepare to host the UCI championship races in his country next year.
“We’re excited about it,” he says from the Doha 2016 booth in the Fan Zone in the Convention Center. “You will see a different culture. Normally world cycling championships are held in Europe. Now, for the first time, it will be in the Middle East.”
He says the Doha course is flat and will travel through the cultural center of Qatar, circling through The Pearl, a ring of artificial islands. The race will be held Oct. 9 through 16, when average temperatures are “late 20s to early 30s,” he says — that’s 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Though he has been busy working in the Doha booth and has not had much time to explore Richmond, he did ride in the Sports Backers Conquer the Cobbles event on Friday evening. “It was nice, beautiful, especially on the stony part,” he says.
Another highlight has been meeting cycling legend Eddy Merckx, the official ambassador for Doha 2016, and a close friend of the Emir of Qatar.
To view photos and read profiles of the UCI Road World Championships pros, local fans and international visitors to Richmond, check out the Richmond magazine Bike Blog.