Going to the races: A quick guide to the UCI Championship bike races

Thomas Kidd | 9/18/2015, 6:55 a.m. | Updated on 9/18/2015, 6:55 a.m.
The world will be in our front yard starting this week as cyclists with the 2015 UCI Road World Championships ...
Team Rwanda’s senior rider, Nathan Byukusenge, far right, has qualified to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero. Team Rwanda is among several teams from African nations expected to compete in the 2015 UCI Road World Championships in Richmond. Photo by T. Kisambira

The world will be in our front yard starting this week as cyclists with the 2015 UCI Road World Championships race through Richmond. 

Beginning Saturday, Sept. 19, through Sunday, Sept. 27, more than 1,000 world-class cyclists representing 75 countries will be competing for international honors.

If you are among the expected throng of thousands of spectators who will line Metro Richmond’s streets, or if you elect to join the more than 300 million viewers online or by television, here are a few facts to help you to fully enjoy and understand the nine-day event.

The Importance to Richmond

The UCI Road World Championships, or “Worlds” as they call it, is one of cycling’s elite events. The international competition began in 1921, in the first host city of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Now in its 94th year, this is only the second time that a United States city has been selected to host the event. The first time was in 1986, when Colorado Springs, Colo., hosted the races. Other host cities have included Zurich, Rome, Montreal and Barcelona, Spain.

The Races

The event is comprised of 12 different races, with each race crowning a world champion in the event.

The races will be held on four courses. Two of the four courses start at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in Downtown, while one starts at Kings Dominion in Doswell and the other begins at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden on Lakeside Avenue in Henrico County. However, all of the races finish Downtown on Broad Street at the Convention Center.

Races begin after 8:45 a.m. and the morning rush hour. They conclude before the evening commute.

The shortest event is the 14-mile Women’s Junior Time Trial, for women under age 19, to be held 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 21. This race should wrap up in about an hour and a half.

The longest event is the Men’s Elite Road Race at 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 27. It is the last and largest race, spanning about 160 miles and will take more than six hours to complete. 

Two of the best spots for viewing the races: Monument Avenue and Libby Hill at 23rd Street. Don’t worry if the crowd beats you there. UCI is providing several fan zones along the courses. Fan zones are located at the start/finish line of each race. Each fan zone will offer closed circuit TV and the opportunity to purchase food and beverages. In addition, grandstand seating and VIP hospitality areas will be available along the finish line.

The American Team

The American team features some heavyweights in the sport. Among them is 32-year-old Evelyn Stevens.

Ms. Stevens, a former Wall Street analyst, has won several national titles and will be competing for a championship in the team time trial, the individual time trial and the elite women’s road race.

Another standout is Kristin Armstrong. Considered one of the best American cyclists, Ms. Armstrong won gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Look for her to compete in the women’s individual time trial.