Richmond 2015 will be an event unlike anything that has been seen in the United States in almost 30 years. 1986 was the last time the UCI Road World Championships were held in the US and they return in September for a week of races and major events. Think about it, when was the last time the US played host to a sporting event of which they were not the heavily favored country? It doesn’t matter who wins, this is already a huge win for this country.
You may have never heard of the UCI Road World Championships so here are a few things you should know. For Americans the Super Bowl is the pinnacle of sports championships, not only here but around the entire world. We believe that nothing else in the world is bigger right? Oh how wrong we are. Richmond 2015 will see 3 times the television viewers that the Super Bowl will and nearly half a million people will be traveling to the city to watch the races.
Pro Cycling in the US
New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Seattle and all the other cities that host major sporting events can combine all of them and they still do not add up to what will occur in Virginia. Can we as Americans even fathom that?
For those who are unfamiliar with pro cycling in this country it does occur and it is growing in popularity. There are multiple series with big races held throughout the country from Philadelphia to California and they do generate lots of revenue for hosting cities. But this is a completely different situation and it could be the very thing to propel cycling here.
You can’t talk about pro cycling in the US without thinking about Lance Armstrong but this is an opportunity for the sport as well as the country to start moving past the Armstrong era and begin a new one. Unfortunately the cyclist expected to lead that era, Tejay Van Garderen will be unable to compete after being hurt in a race this past weekend. However, the American team is still expected to have a strong showing with a field of young and talented racers participating.
Chris Froome of Team Sky who won the Tour De France this past summer is expected to be racing for the Britain team along with Mark Cavendish and other big names in pro cycling will be representing their countries for the Elite Men, Elite Women, U23 Men, Junior Men and Junior Women teams.
“Pro cycling is getting bigger in the US. When we go to races we notice more fans, more businesses want to sponsors races as well as teams. I think what it is missing to take the sport into the main stream is a major event like this. This could be the event and hopefully it leads to a surge for the sport here.” Stradalli Cycle CEO Tom Steinbacher
Stradalli Cycle is based in South Florida but has offices all around the world. They sell carbon fiber road bikes, the same type of bikes that are used in pro cycling. They also own as well as sponsor multiple pro teams around the world. The main team competes in the USA Crits Series which takes them all over America.
“Cycling is a passion for people. This country has a huge number of recreational cyclists. Our sales numbers keep climbing in the US to prove that. For some people it is because they want to get healthier, others use it for transportation but regardless of the reason people are in fact buying bikes at a higher rate. There is no doubt that because of this there is an increased interest in pro racing. The question is will Richmond 2015 be the event that catapults it into heights unseen? It’s unfortunate that Tejay Van Garderen is injured and won’t be able to compete but I think the US has some great cyclists who are hungry to show what they can do. I am looking forward to seeing how Andrew Talansky does. He is a great racer from Miami and a great example of how cycling in South Florida as well as the entire United States is on the way up.” Tom Steinbacher
Colombian Cycling Federation
Steinbacher certainly thinks so as he has agreed to partner with the Colombian Cycling Federation to make Stradalli Cycle the official sponsor of the Colombian National Team for the UCI Road World Championships.
“We were fortunate enough to have a long relationship with cycling in Colombia and we have even sponsored teams there so it was a natural transition. We know that this event is going to be huge and to be a part of it in any capacity is a real honor.” Tom Steinbacher
The Colombian roster alone could be stacked with top cyclists from around the world. Nairo Quintana of team Movistar could lead a very talented team. Quintana (25) has finished 2nd at the Tour De France in 2013 and 2015 behind winner Chris Froome and in 2014 won the Giro d’Italia. He may be joined by Rigoberto Urán (Etixx-QuickStep), Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) and Sergio Henao (Team Sky) just to name a few.
The UCI Road World Championship races are going to be held from September 19-27th with the course changing each day. There are three events for the racers to compete; the individual time trial, the team time trial and the race itself. Unlike the Tour De France each racer will be representing their country and will only be racing in a single race, not multiple stages. There will be plenty of big events and festivities during the week as well.
The event will be big but the question still remains, will Richmond 2015 give pro cycling in the US a boost?