Norway has the new world road race champion Thor Hushovd; now it also wants to organise the world championships. The Norwegian Cycling Federation has said it will seek to organise the annual event in the next few years.
"We are going to apply for cycling world championships in either 2014 or 2016. We've been informed that the championship are likely to be held outside Europe," said Harald Tiedemann Hansen, the Federation president.
Norway will also apply for the European Championships on road in 2012. The Scandinavian country hosted the 1993 world championships when Lance Armstrong won the men's road race title in Oslo.
“Hushovd's world championship gold gave us an extra boost,” Tiedemann Hansen told Procycling.no. “There has long been interest in Norway in cycling, and at our annual meeting, we decided to apply for the 2012 European championships and world championships after that. We had a good application in 1993 too, but we are even stronger as a cycling nation now."
Hushovd was pleased by the idea, even if he wasn't sure he would be around to compete. “It had been a big dream to race the world championships on home soil. But I was a little surprised when I heard about this, because I did not think they had plans to apply,” he said.
He hinted it could be his last ever race as a professional. “We'll see. I'll 38 in 2016. Maybe I will ride on that day, but not the day after. It'd be a crazy big event in little Norway. However, Norway is not a small bike nation any more, when you look at recruitment and the number of licenses. We can arrange something.”
The next three world championships are scheduled for Copenhagen, Denmark (2011), Limburg, Netherlands (2012), and Florence, Italy (2013). Chihuahua, Mexico, the Vendee region of France and Hooglede-Gits, Belgium, have expressed interest in organising the 2014 world championships.
UCI says no chance before 2016
International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid moved quickly to explain that Norway won't have a chance of organising the world championships until 2016.
The 2013 event has already been assigned, with work on 2014 applications already under way. “In Melbourne, we decided that the world championships in 2015 will be raced outside of Europe. There are several who have indicated interest in it already,” he said.
“The first opportunity will be in 2016 - and beyond,” McQuaid continued. “But if Norway chooses to apply, then it will be well received by the UCI. You had them in 1993, but since then the sport has evolved tremendously. Cycling is among the most popular sports in Norway now, and there is no reason why that should change in the future. Thor Hushovd will not be completing in 2016 or 2017, but Boasson Hagen and any others that come up from behind, will continue to ride.”