International Cycling Union official Matthew Knight is in the Richmond area this weekend to inspect the four courses proposed for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships.
Knight arrived Friday to inspect the courses — yet to be revealed to the public — that have been mapped out in Richmond and the counties of Henrico and Hanover by Richmond 2015, the nonprofit organization responsible for organizing, managing and promoting the racing event. The championships will be held here in September 2015.
Tim Miller, Richmond 2015’s chief operating officer, said the inspection “puts us on the 5-yard line” toward getting the international organization’s final approval.
Miller said Knight’s inspection and feedback may lead to some tweaks to the courses. One of the four courses has already reached the point of awaiting approval for minor changes that have been made, he said.
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Final approval for all the courses could come from international organization by mid-January, with a public announcement likely to come six to eight weeks after that.
“We’re about a year ahead of the typical timeline for course approval,” Miller said.
The Richmond-area courses would be given a test run when the region hosts the national collegiate championships May 2-4, he said.
“That will be a really invaluable tool for us,” he said. “It will give everybody an opportunity to prepare — from volunteer training, to police participation to marketing — in advance of the world championships.”
The UCI Road World Championships started in 1921 and have included professional competition since 1927. The event has been held every year except for being suspended during World War II from 1939 through 1945.
The cycling race has been held in the U.S. only once before — in 1986 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Richmond 2015 anticipates 450,000 on-site spectators for the event when it comes here Sept. 19-27, 2015. The global television audience for the races is projected at more than 300 million viewers.
The championships in several classes are expected to draw 1,000 athletes from 75 countries, as well as 1,000 journalists from 500 outlets around the world.
The economic impact of the event — from preparations leading up to the races to visitor spending during the competition — is estimated at $158.1 million for the region.
Knight, who manages the sporting side of the international organization, joined the Switzerland-based group a year ago. Prior to that, he was road cycling coordinator for Cycling Canada, a position he had held since early 2009.