Bicycle City, USA

Richmond will host the 2015 UCI Road World Championships bicycle race.

Tim Moreillon

Cyclists competing at the 2010 UCI Road World Championships in Geelong and Melbourne, Australia.

Richmonders have been saying they live in a bicycle town for years. But now it’s official: Union Cycliste Internationale announced in Copenhagen, Denmark yesterday that Richmond will host the 2015 Road World Championships.

The event is expected to attract nearly half a million visitors to Richmond and bring in close to $135 million. Plus some national and international attention for Richmond that doesn’t involve the Civil War.

“Richmond is thrilled to be selected to host the 2015 Road World Cycling Championships, joining a list of great cities like Madrid, Florence and Copenhagen,” said Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones in a city press release. “Bicycling, for transport and fitness, has been an important focus of my administration. Hosting the World Championships will help bring Richmond one step closer to being one of the world’s great bicycling cities.”

Three hosting bids were initially submitted to the UCI. Quebec City, Canada withdrew its candidacy earlier this year due to the high cost of hosting (estimated to be $20 million) while Muscat, Oman withdrew yesterday, not long before the host city was announced, for reasons that have yet to be explained.

So you could say Richmond won by default, but the city still had to satisfy UCI that it was capable of hosting the event, so nothing was guaranteed until the announcement was made. 2015 will be the first time the U.S. has hosted the Road World Championships since Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1986.

What this means for the next four years in Richmond remains to be seen. “The UCI wants to see a legacy,” Champe Burnley, president of the Virginia Bicycling Federation told the Richmond Times Dispatch. “They want to see that it’s not just nine days of racing, but that their event makes a difference.” Richmond cyclists will be hoping to see improvements like more and better bicycle lanes in the city and surrounding counties or even a simple increase in bicycle racks.

It’s estimated that $12 million will be needed to be spent to make RVA Road World Championships ready, with repaving roads that will be part of the race track a likely priority (no one wants to see a bumpy UCI Road World Championships). For now it seems to be all about enjoying the moment, with Mayor Dwight C. Jones proclaiming that “the next step is to celebrate.” But hopefully the thinking behind 2015 and its impact on Richmond will be long term.

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