Richmond, Virginia has been tapped by the Union Cycliste International (UCI), the international governing body of professional cycling, as the host city for the 2015 Road Cycling World Championships. This is the premiere road cycling event on the international scene, with 12 championship races spread over nine days of competition. Athletes compete for their country, just like in the Olympics, in three different disciplines: traditional Road Race, Individual Time Trial, and the relatively new Team Time Trial. World Champions are crowned in each discipline.
The UCI stipulates the World Championships be held outside of Europe every five years, in an attempt to globalize cycling’s popularity. When members of the UCI asked U.S. Cycling to bid on the 2015 slot, Richmond was immediately the frontrunner U.S. city.
“Richmond has a long history of pro cycling, and the popularity of cycling in general has exploded in the city over the last few years,” says Tim Miller, the executive director of Richmond 2015, the organization that spearheaded the bid to host the championships. “I’m excited to introduce the world to Richmond’s history. I’m hoping the course will highlight a lot of landmarks like the Civil War sites and Monument Avenue. I’m also excited about showcasing the hills we have in the city.”
Richmond has earned the nickname “The City of Seven Hills,” because it was built on a significant slope that rises from the James River.
“Most of the streets either go up or down,” Miller says. “It should make for an interesting course.”
Richmond’s Pro Cycling History
1989-1990 – Tour de Trump came through Richmond. The tour was sponsored by Donald Trump, started in New York City and finished in Atlantic City as a way to showcase Trump’s hotels and casinos.
1991-1996 – Tour DuPont: The Tour de Trump evolved into the Tour DuPont, one of the premier races in the world. Cyclists called it the “Fourth Grand Tour,” and the race hosted legends like Greg LeMond and a young Lance Armstrong. A legal battle killed the race.
2003-2006 – Captech Classic: A nationally televised crit race through the heart of downtown Richmond.
2007 – US Open of Cycling finished in Richmond, and included a cobblestone climb in Libby Hill Park.
Miller and US Cycling are hard at work on developing the course for the race, which they’ll keep under wraps for now. But here are Richmond mainstays that Miller says all roadies should tackle before the pros descend on the city:
A lot of rides are on the east side of town, and there’s no way to really avoid this hill coming back into town. It can be brutal.
This 300-meter cobblestone climb was part of the Tour DuPont.
This 3.5-mile straight away is one of the few flat roads in Richmond, but it has some cobblestone portions that featured prominently in the Tour DuPont.