Organisers of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia say their plans for the race are coming together ahead of schedule, and they may be ready to announce the course as early as January.
Lee Kallman, the Richmond 2015 director of marketing and communications, told Cyclingnews that the organisation's fundraising has passed the halfway mark to their goal of $21 million - they've currently amassed $12 million from mainly local and regional partners, and will now turn their search to national and international sponsorships.
One thing the Richmond 2015 team learned from its visit to this year's Worlds in Florence was how much the local business could get engaged in the race. Most storefronts in Montecatini, Lucca and Florence had special bike-themed window displays for the race, and Kallman and his team hope to bring the same enthusiasm to Richmond.
"We're looking to show that [spirit] to local businesses here, to get them to be part of the opportunity the race presents," Kallman said.
The group has also been working closely with Medalist Sports, the technical advisors, on the course design, which should be completed by the end of the year. Normally the world championship courses are announced one year in advance, but Richmond 2015 is hoping to make the course announcement early. The timing will help the local community become better educated about the route, its impacts and the comprehensive transportation plan which will be put into place so that the race will minimize the inconvenience on the residents' lives.
"The transportation piece is a key component," Kallman said. "It's a huge priority. We have to strike a balance, because there is a fine line between setting off alarms and scaring people about traffic, [and education].
"From the time we announce the course, we will kick off town meetings where course will be, to educate people. If they understand the plan and have confidence, that will quell the fear about traffic. We want them to stay and enjoy everything, so it is incumbent upon us to provide transportation options."
The Richmond area may not have climbs of the length of those in Florence, but Kallman promises a challenging course with shorter, punchy climbs and cobbled sections - most of which were presented in the team's bid for the Worlds back in 2011. "80% of the courses are identical to the bid. We had the opportunity to make some tweaks around three perspectives: First, the racing has to be great, but the courses also need to showcase the community and what Richmond has to offer in terms of tourism and attractions. We tried to tie as many as possible into the course. And third, to minimize the impact on traffic."
As Richmond 2015 finalizes its race plans, it's also working to create a world class event surrounding the race, partnering with local entertainment and cultural organisations to make the bike race more than just a sporting event.
"The bulk of the fans that come out to a Worlds in Europe are a cycling audience. It's a mainstream sport there. While we will get cycling fans from around the world, there's a huge opportunity to get people out who are new to the sport, who will come for the spectacle. We're looking to wrap other events: concerts, expos and festivals around the racing to make it more of an experience."
Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A swimmer in her younger days, Laura made the change to cycling later in life, but was immediately swept up by a huge passion for the sport. Riding for fitness quickly gave way to the competitive urge, and a decade of racing later she can look back on a number of high profile races and say with confidence, "I started". While her racing days are over for the most part, she continues to dabble in cyclo-cross and competing against fellow pathletes on the greenways of Raleigh, North Carolina.
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