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Spectators cheer riders in the UCI Junior Women's Road Circuit (photo by Tina Eshleman)
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A rider from Slovenia passes by on North 29th Street (photo by Olivia Harrison).
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Visible support for the Netherlands' team at Libby Hill Park (photo by Olivia Harrison).
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Riders in the Junior Women's Road Circuit climb Libby Hill (photo by Olivia Harrison)
A Close-Up View
As Church Hill resident Emma Clarke stands on her front porch talking with me and my daughter (and photographer) Olivia, a team of cyclists from Slovenia passes by on a practice ride. The UCI Road World Championships have come right to Clarke's doorstep on North 29th Street. Someone even brought her family a gift. Noticing an Irish football flag from County Kerry hanging from the porch ceiling — a souvenir
from her parents' trip to Ireland — a stranger left a matching team jersey with a note saying, "I hope this fits someone, David." Clarke and her mother, Pam, say they hope to meet David. Meanwhile, they're displaying the jersey in their window. "We're going to wear it tomorrow and Sunday," Clarke says. In addition to the activity immediately in front of her, Clarke has noticed a large influx of international customers at the nearby Union Market. And on Wednesday, she says, "I randomly got invited to a party at a house on Grove Avenue," with Latvian cyclists who were staying on Hanover Avenue in the Fan. Clarke says the cyclists were a little nervous about the infamous Libby Hill cobblestones. High-ranking rider Gatis Smukulis told the group he was disappointed in his time trials. "So he's hoping to show what he's worth in the next race."
Farley Ortega traveled from Colombia to support his countrymen and women (photo by Tina Eshleman).
Down the street, Carlos Mario Jaramillo Mesa, national technical director with the Federación Colombiana de Ciclismo, seems to be wearing his game face. He says he doesn't speak English, and my halting Spanish limits our conversation, but I learn afterward that he's a retired cyclist who competed in the 1984 Summer Olympics and rode professionally from 1985 to 1996. He does tell me that he works with 22 cyclists from Colombia, men and women. Does he like Richmond? "Mucho," he says. What does he think of the weather? "Frio." The people? "Formal." The food? "Bien." Has he tried any restaurants in the city? "Solo en hotel," only in the Marriott West. Also here from Colombia to see the UCI races is Farley Ortega (above), who tells me in English that Jarlinson Pantano is the one to watch from Colombia on Sunday. "I think he's the one who's going to make it. He's my favorite." Ortega, who's staying in a hotel near the airport, says he brought his bike and rode about 25 miles yesterday. "I feel so comfortable," he says. "Drivers are respectful." He also appreciates the police presence. "You have protection around you," Ortega says. "You're not afraid to go anywhere."
Jenny Wampler of Park City, Utah (photo by Olivia Harrison)
An Advocate for Women Cyclists
"Venga! Venga!" Jenny Wampler calls to a cyclist from Costa Rica in the Women's Junior Road Circuit. Residents of Park City, Utah, she and her husband, Terry, arrive at Libby Hill Park on their bikes to watch the race and support the riders, especially the women. "To get to America for all these countries is really hard," she says. "That's why we haven't had the UCI here for so many years." The Wamplers are serious about the sport; this year, they've been to the Tour of Utah, Tour of Montana and Tour of California. As we talk, announcer David Towle tells the crowd that the USA's Chole Dygert "went nuclear." She's ahead by one minute. It's an exciting time, and Wampler (@GiroJenny) is tweeting updates as we watch. She had just told me that she's looking for Dygert and fellow American Emma White to be on the podium, and as it turns out, that's exactly what happens. A member of the Women's Cycling Association, Wampler's helping to push for equal pay for women in the sport. "The women are having to travel, they're training the same hours and they're riding the same courses. They just aren't at equal pay yet." As a resident of Park City, Wampler knows big events, and she has kind words for our city. "You guys have done a great job," she says. 'Everyone is very supportive of the bike race. "We've been invited to parties, and we had a couple buy us dinner the other night. Richmond is really happy the world is here."
Brent Snodgrass of Medalist Sports (photo by Olivia Harrison).
Behind the Scenes
The fence along the racecourse at Libby Hill is wobbling a little, so Brent Snodgrass and his crew bring reinforcements. Snodgrass is production manager for Medalist Sports, which set up the venues along the course — the fences, hospitality areas, big screens and tresses. Medalist is based in Peachtree City, Georgia, but crew members come from Indiana, Colorado and elsewhere, he says. The company also worked on last year's Collegiate Road Nationals, which allowed for testing the race courses. UCI's governing body reviewed the courses then, he says, and made sure that police and other agencies were on the same page. "It's great to see the crowd out," he says of the scene Friday morning at Libby Hill Park. He's also glad to see interest in cycling grow in the United States. "I enjoy the sport — you have to enjoy it to work the long hours."
For daily updates on Richmond 2015, plus photos and race fan interviews, read the Richmond magazine Bike Blog. Follow our posts on Twitter with the hashtag #RichMagBikeBlog.