Cycling “Super Bowl” Headed to Richmond

Richmond, Virginia, hosts the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Road World Cycling Championships (Worlds) from September 19-27, 2015. It’s the second time the United States will hold the event—the first in 28 years.

Cyclists from around the globe will compete in 12 elite and junior races during the nine-day event.

“It is a rare opportunity for the athletes to compete for their country, just as they do during the Olympic games,” says Paul Shanks, director of communications and digital marketing for Richmond 2015, Inc. “Athletes compete in three different disciplines including the traditional Road Race, the Individual Time Trial and the recently introduced Team Time Trial. World champions are crowned in each discipline.”

More than 1,500 cyclists from 75 nations are expected to participate, with 450,000 local spectators expected to turn out and 300 million people watching globally.

“In cycling there is no stadium,” says Shanks. “The roads become the stadium, and the roads chosen in Richmond to be a part of the courses for Worlds display the beautiful, historic city of Richmond. It truly is going to make a great venue for these world class cyclists to compete for a world championship.”

Eric Schofield, an avid cyclist who started competing in road cycling competitions three years ago, directs the Bon Secours Elite Cycling Team and is one of many residents looking forward to Worlds.

“I am excited to see the world’s best cyclists compete in Richmond and the reaction to the event from non-cyclists,” Schofield says.

“These athletes are capable of amazing things on a bicycle. My guess is that even non-cyclists will appreciate this sport at its highest level and the event will increase awareness and possibly tolerance to cyclists in the area. I have not seen an event of this magnitude in person and I am sure that it will be even more unbelievable than I envision it in my mind. I can’t wait.”

Earlier this month, Virginia Commonwealth University senior Chris Jones, a member of the university’s cycling club, as well as the Bon Secours team, won the Division I Individual Time Trial in the Collegiate Road Cycling National Championships, riding on a course similar to the one that will be used in next year’s cycling championships.

“It was awesome,” he says. “It was really, really hard; very challenging. That should make the actual race very interesting.”

Jones likened next year’s race to “asking a football fan if he is going to see the Super Bowl.”

“I will definitely be there,” he says. “It will be like the Tour de France coming to Richmond. It is going to be huge.”

Richmond City Mayor Dwight C. Jones is equally thrilled and feels the race aligns with his Healthy Richmond Campaign.

“Increased pedestrian activity via bicycling and trails is a central focus of my Healthy Richmond Campaign,” the mayor says. “Not only is the UCI World Road Cycling Championships a wonderful opportunity for Richmond to shine globally, but the Championships will naturally engage the public around an event that reflects healthy and active lifestyles. An event like this on such a large scale can have a lasting impact on young and old. I believe the energy that Richmond is about to experience as a result of this event will have multiple residual outcomes.”