The UCI officially announced that Greenville, South Carolina has been awarded the 2014 para-cycling road world championships. The championships will take place August 28th to September 1st. It has been 16 years since the para-cycling world championships have been in the U.S.
Athletes will compete in categories based on their ability, on handcycles, adapted bikes, tricycle and tandems in the road race and time trial disciplines.
According to Louis Barbeau, President of the UCI Para-Cycling Commission, Greenville's commitment to the event was the reason why the city won the bid, stating how impressed the UCI was.
Barbeau expects about 700 people to be a part of the para-cycling games, so having an infrastructure that could accommodate them was key, such as having hotels that are wheelchair accessible and the support of the city.
"I had the pleasure of meeting the mayor and mayor pro tem and we could already see that there was a commitment." Continuing Barbeau said, "I haven't seen a bid of that quality before."
Several cities in Europe expressed interest in hosting the championships, but no written commitment.
Also in attendance was Greenville resident George Hincapie. The 16-time Tour de France participant took to the podium and expressed his satisfaction with Greenville's winning bid.
"This adds to Greenville's already long list of cycling events," said Hincapie. "And this event will not only promote Greenville nationally and across the world, but help our local people and let people know all the wonderful things Greenville provides: the bike paths, the roads, the weather. If you're a cyclist this is an ideal place to ride a bike."
Greenville had come to the attention of the cycling world prior to the national professional championships which has called it home for the past seven years. Stage 7 of the 1995 Tour du Pont ended in Greenville and the downtown area has hosted big dollar criteriums during the 1990s.
Ian Lawless, Executive Director of U.S. Handcycling, said that the exact course for the road race and time trial for para-cycling are still being considered.
"We have identified a variety of possibilities, but nothing that is concrete. We're looking at the Millennium Campus to possibly host some and possibly some stuff downtown. A lot of that will be announced in the coming months."
The Millennium Campus is the current site of the U.S. Pro Championships time trial course.
Speaking to someone familiar with how a course must be designed for a para-cycling race they thought that a loop through downtown Greenville and around the neighboring Cleveland Park area could be a strong candidate. The Millennium Campus would be utilized for the time trial.
An economic impact study states that Greenville should anticipate more than 4.5 million dollars for the local economy.