In September 2015, an estimated 400,000+ on-site spectators will join 1,000 of the world’s top cyclists over nine days to enjoy the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia.
We talked to Tim Miller and Lee Kallman, the organizer of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships to find out why the event is so popular.
THE CLYMB: How did you get involved with the project? What’s your cycling background?
Tim Miller: I am a former competitive cyclist who has worked in the sport of cycling since 1992. I have worked on major international events, including the former Tour DuPont and the Tour de Georgia, and founded the CapTech Classic, which became one of the premier one-day events on the national calendar. In 2009, I was involved in the decision to pursue the event and lead the bid process from start to finish.
Lee Kallman: I got involved in the Spring of 2011 during the bid process. Much like the Olympics, multiple cities from around the world submit bids to the UCI to host the World Championships. I got involved because I saw this as a perfect opportunity to merge my professional experiences (sports marketing) and personal interests in cycling. As for my cycling background, let’s just say my physical ability never quite lived up to my passion for the sport.
THE CLYMB: Can you give us a little background on the UCI Road World Championships and why 2015 is a special year for them?
TM: The UCI Road World Championships is an annual event that is held in an international city as selected through a bidding process, much like the Olympic Games. The event hasn’t been held in the United States since 1986, when it was held in Colorado Springs, Colo. It is no secret that cycling historically has been a European-centric sport. In an effort to globalize cycling, the UCI decided to limit European bids for the Road World Championships every fifth year, thus ensuring that the event would take place outside of Europe in those years. This practice began in 2010 when the event was held in Melbourne/Geelong, Australia, and is the primary reason that we chose to bid on the year 2015.
LK: The UCI Road World Championships is the pinnacle of the sport of cycling; it’s an annual event consisting of 12 World Championships over nine days. We’ll have about 1,000 of the best men, women and junior cyclists competing in time trials (a.k.a. race against the clock) and road races. The World Championships is unique in that, like the Olympics, athletes compete for their country.
THE CLYMB: What does the event entail? How many riders are you expecting and from where? What makes the event so large and important?
TM: The Road World Championships is one of the most important events of the year. Everyone wants to be a World Champion! The event features races for Junior boys and girls, Under 23 men and the Elite men and women. It is one of the few opportunities that the athletes have to compete for their country, just like they do during the Olympic Games. The event also features a unique Team Time Trial that is contested by professional trade teams, both men’s and women’s.
LK: The Worlds, as they are known, will attract more than 1,000 of the world’s best cyclists from about 75 countries. The top cyclists in the world, including those competing in the Tour de France, will be in Richmond in 2015. Worlds is a unique experience because outside of the Olympics, this is the only other time cyclists compete for their countries, rather than their trade teams, and the only time they can be called a World Champion. Greg LeMond was a World Champion twice, Lance Armstrong topped Miguel Indurain in Oslo in 1993. Truly, the best cyclists in the world will ride in Richmond, and a worldwide TV audience of 300 million will be watching their every move.
We see the 2015 Worlds as more than a bike race: The broader initiative is about raising awareness about bikes for everyone. Sure, we’d love to see more people get into racing, but the bigger picture is to get more people on bikes for recreation and transportation. Bikes are great for the waistline, the wallet and the environment. The event itself will have the feel of an international festival worthy of a world championships complete with fan zones, interactive opportunities and concerts to accompany terrific racing.
THE CLYMB: Can you describe the courses available?
TM: There are four distinct courses that will be used, all of which highlight Richmond’s historic avenues and the regions abundant scenic beauty. The Team Time Trial course, which is approximately 21.9 miles in length, features rolling terrain through the countryside just east of downtown Richmond. The Individual Time Trial course, which will be used for all categories except for the Elite Men, features a very technical, urban circuit.
The Individual Time Trial for the Elite Men will feature a point-to-point course that starts north of downtown Richmond through rolling terrain before it makes its way into the city. And finally the Road Race course is a 10-mile circuit through downtown Richmond that is very technical with three short, challenging climbs in the final 3 miles.
THE CLYMB: Any course particularly challenging or that most people are looking forward to?
TM: The three climbs in the final 3 miles will prove challenging as each race reaches its second half. The cobbled climb through Libby Hill Park will be the most popular spot to watch because it is where riders will launch attacks.
LK: All of the courses are challenging and interesting for a variety of reasons, but I think the road races will be especially interesting as they include several cobbled sections and three short but steep hills in the last couple miles of each lap. More specifically, Libby Hill is a cobbled climb with a couple of switchbacks. Lap after lap, it will be incredibly difficult for the cyclists; for fans, it’ll be an incredible place to watch the race unfold.
THE CLYMB: What kind of turnout do you expect?
TM: We are projecting 452,000 spectators over the course of nine days of competition. That includes both local citizens as well as out-of-town visitors. The race will draw about 1,000 athletes from 75 countries and roughly 500 members of the media.