Yesterday, the Union Cycliste Internationale announced that the 2015 World Road Cycling Championships would be held in Richmond, Virginia, a mere 80 miles from where I live. This gives rise to all sorts of questions, including:
o What the heck are the World Road Cycling Championships?
o Why can’t the French ever get their adjectives in the right order?
o Seriously, Richmond?
It turns out this is kind of a big deal. UCI is the sport of cycling’s governing body. They oversee all major cycling events and issue licenses to the riders. They are headquartered in Switzerland, which may be evidence of their strict neutrality, or their penchant for keeping the secrets and monetary fortunes of arch criminals safe, or both. UCI has been hosting the championships since 1921 and the winners in each division (there are Junior’s, Men’s, and Women’s divisions for both road races and time trials) get to wear a rainbow jersey for the next year in all UCI events, signifying they are a world champion and are in no way (necessarily) affiliated with the lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender community.
It appears that winning this event is quite an achievement. It is considered one of the three most important races of the year, along with the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia (which is Italian for “Our Tour Is A Big Deal, Just Like The Tour de France”). Together, these three races form cycling’s Triple Crown. The crown has been won only twice, once by Irishman Stephen Roche (1987) and the other time by the legendary Eddy Merckx of Belgium (1974). That’s it.
Choosing Richmond as the location for this event may seem odd. That is because it is odd. The Road Championships have been most recently held in Melbourne Australia, Mendrisio Switzerland, Varese Italy, and Stuttgart Germany. The last time it was held in the USA was 1986 in Colorado Springs. Somehow, Richmond doesn’t seem like the next logical step in this chain. There are several centers of cycling buzz in America (Portland and Austin come immediately to mind) and although I am certain Richmond is working hard to make itself “bike friendly,” it normally doesn’t come up on the list of America’s best bicycling cities. Richmond was almost guaranteed a selection after Oman, its chief competitor, withdrew its bid. UCI’s selection for Richmond was unanimous.
So congratulations to Richmonders (if that is the right word for someone who lives in Richmond) for overcoming major obstacles and convincing a bunch of secretive Swiss to hold their world championships in their fair city. I now have four years to start building enough interest to drive down the road and watch the event.
Hopefully this helps explain the race and a bit about the city of Richmond. As for the French, I have given up trying to understand them.