The UCI confirmed today that Fayetteville, Arkansas will host the 2022 Cyclo-cross World Championships, as reported earlier by Cyclingnews.
The 2023 Worlds was awarded to Hoogerheide in the Netherlands, while previously announced hosts Dübendorf, Switzerland and Ostend, Belgium will host the next two upcoming World Championships, respectively.
The UCI also confirmed the US would continue to host the first two events of the 2019-2020 Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup, with the series starting in Iowa City on September 14, 2019, followed by Waterloo on September 22. The series then goes to Bern, Tabor, Koksijde, Zolder, Nommay and Hoogerheide.
Commenting on the decision to award the world championships to Fayetteville, UCI President David Lappartient said: “We are delighted to see the return of our Worlds to the USA in 2022, which comes as confirmation of the international expansion of cyclo-cross and points to the growing interest among organisers in a discipline that offers significant development opportunities.”
Rumours of the possibility that Fayetteville would host the 2022 Worlds began spreading earlier this week after a website briefly went online featuring a logo with a bold headline declaring "UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, Fayetteville 2022". The URL for that website no longer functions and directs users to an error notice.
Louisville, Kentucky hosted the cyclo-cross world championships in 2013, the first and only time the prestigious race has taken place in the US. Belgian legend Sven Nys won his final elite men's rainbow jersey there, and Dutch superstar Marianne Vos took home the elite women's title. Mathieu van der Poel won his second 'cross rainbow jersey in the junior men's race.
Although Arkansas does not have a long history with cyclo-cross, in November of this year Fayetteville hosted the OZ Cross, a first-year race organised by Brook Watts, who currently organises the Waterloo World Cup in Wisconsin and previously promoted Cross Vegas, the first US race to be a part of the UCI World Cup.
OZ Cross was on USA Cycling's American Cyclo-cross Calendar, a second-tier series that serves as a stepping stone for races hoping to get onto USAC's premiere cyclo-cross series, the Pro CX Calendar. Cyclingnews understands the Arkansas race has applied for UCI inscription for next season and a place on USA Cycling's Pro CX Calendar.
The two days of national-level racing at Oz Cross in November took place at Millsaps Mountain, which the race website described as "a soon-to-be developed City of Fayetteville park" just minutes from downtown.
Cyclingnews sent an email on Thursday afternoon to Watts seeking comment, but he has been traveling extensively through Europe since December and did not immediately respond. Cyclingnews also sent an email seeking comment to UCI Deputy Sports Director and Head of Off-Road disciplines Peter Van den Abeele, who did not respond.
However, UCI press officer Louis Chenaille replied Friday morning, saying the UCI would furnish Cyclingnews a comment from UCI President David Lappartient once the official announcement is made around 6pm Friday local time in Bogense, Denmark, after the Management Committee meeting ahead of the 2019 World Championships.
A USA Cycling spokesperson would not comment on the status of the Fayetteville Worlds bid but issued a statement of support to Cyclingnews.
"USA Cycling fully supports the 2022 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships bid by Fayetteville, Arkansas," the statement read. "We have a long history of hosting memorable world championships and World Cups on US soil and would gladly welcome the opportunity for cycling fans to experience the thrill of competition that only a world championship can bring. We look forward to hearing the outcome of the UCI's decision."
Cyclocross Magazine laid out a detailed summary of the circumstantial case for a possible Fayetteville announcement in an article published Thursday evening.
Fayetteville is not a stranger to professional cycling, having hosted the Joe Martin Stage Race since 1978. The US national calendar event is currently registered as a 2.2 stage race on the UCI America Tour.
Nearby Bentonville, Arkansas is also home to Wal Mart corporate headquarters and RZC Investments, a private equity firm run by Wal Mart heirs Steuart and Tom Walton, who recently purchased British cycling clothing company Rapha for $260 million.
Fayetteville is also known for its dense network of singletrack mountain bike trails, established in part thanks to advocacy from the Walton Family Foundation and Tom Walton, an avid cyclist who also helped launch an Arkansas chapter of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA).
The Fayetteville Regional Airport is currently undergoing a $35 million expansion that includes construction of a new concourse.