The organisation of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships today revealed the course designs which will be used for the road races, team time trials and individual time trials in the city of Richmond, Virginia next year.
Although not a mountainous region, Richmond is famous for the sharp climbs that rise out of Shockoe Bottom and Historic Shockoe Slip - ascents which were used in the Tour DuPont and Tour de Trump in the 1980s and 1990s plus the US Open of Cycling in 2007 - and those ascents will feature prominently in the final kilometers of the road race.
The course is not expected to be a pure climber's course, nor one for the sprinters, but will favor riders like Philippe Gilbert, Fabian Cancellara or Peter Sagan.
Tim Miller, CEO for Richmond 2015, unveiled the courses, with the road race and time trial circuits to be used for the 2014 USA Cycling collegiate national championships on May 2-4, 2014, as a test event ahead of next year's Worlds, taking place September 19-27, 2015.
Miller stated the committee had to take three factors into account when designing the courses: competition, tourism, and impact to businesses and residents.
"If all we had to worry about was the competition, it would be easy," Miller said. "[we had to consider] the areas of city, county and state that they want to show off, and how local residents and businesses will be impacted. We've worked hard to find that balance and meet courses that meet those objectives."
The courses themselves show little evidence of compromise, and bisect the center of Richmond, criss-crossing the James River and taking in sweeping views of the city's skyline.
The 16.5km, urban road race circuit for the elite men and women tackles the daunting cobbled climb of Libby Hill Park, rising up from the James River, the 110m-long 19% grade of 23rd Street, and the smoothly paved but still taxing ascent of Governor's Street. All three climbs will feature in the last 3km of the road race, creating a proving ground for worthy champions. The junior, U23 and the collegiate championships will skip 23rd Street and use a 15.5km course.
UCI president Brian Cookson was on hand for the course announcement, saying, "I am truly excited that the UCI Road World Championships will return to the US for first time in nearly 30 years, the last time was at Colorado Springs in 1986. The courses that have just been unveiled are certainly worthy for a world championships. I'm very excited by what I've seen today. The urban setting is very interesting. It takes in a bit of Monument Avenue, and two cobble stone climbs including the wonderful Libby Hill climb, which would surely have a place in the Tour of Flanders if it was in Belgium," Cookson said.
The team time trial will begin with a flat and fast stretch from Rockett's Landing, heading along the James River on Route 5, on flat, scenic rural roads. The course will then twist and turn through Henrico County, heading through the Richmond National Battlefield Park, then back into Richmond's downtown through Shockoe Bottom and up Governor's Street to the finish at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.
The Individual Time Trial circuit will head west from downtown Richmond, heading over to Monument Avenue, turning around at the Jefferson Davis monument, and is the only course to cross the James River on its out-and-back loop. The 15.5km course has several short, punchy climbs which will be taken in on each lap. The course will be used for the collegiate championships, and all of the categories of the Worlds except for the elite men. At Worlds, two laps will be utilised for all categories except for junior women.
The elite men's individual time trial will be a 53.1km point-to-point course that will start from the King's Dominion theme park and travel along largely flat roads through Hanover and Henrico counties en route to downtown Richmond. Coming into the finish, riders will tackle the climb on Governor's Street en route to the line.
The marquee event, the road race, will be contested on a circuit starting from the convention center, turning 180 degrees at the Jefferson Davis monument, down the cobbles of Shockoe Slip, then turning back to the steep, cobbled climb of Libby Hill and heading back through town to tackle the cobbles of 23rd Street.
The highly technical course contains numerous twists and turns, ascents and descents, throughout the circuit.
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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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