Richmond 2015: Worlds reach out to Aspen

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Cyclists from the USA Pro Challenge who raced in Aspen last year will compete in the 2015 UCI Road World Championships next September in Richmond, Virginia.
Aubree Dallas / The Aspen Times |

Skiing and cycling.

Cycling and skiing.

The international interconnect between the two drew representatives of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships to Aspen this week for a skiing celebration.

Lee Kallman, the vice president of marketing and development for Richmond 2015, traveled from Virginia to Aspen for the annual Aspen Cup team ski racing benefit for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.

The nonprofit Richmond 2015 organization, Kallman said, was awarded the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, bringing the prestigious cycling worlds to the United States for the first time in 30 years.

“We jumped at the opportunity to get involved with the Ajax Cup,” said Kallman, who brought a unique cycling package for the auction portion of the Ajax Cup fundraiser in Aspen. The Richmond 2015 auction package featured a behind-the-ropes VIP experience at the UCI Road Worlds in Virginia in September.

Ride the course

That includes five nights at a finish-area hotel along with daily, supported bike rides with professionals and VIP access to the racing events.

“And you get an opportunity to ride the road course,” Kallman said of the 10-mile circuit on the historic roads of Richmond. The pro men and pro women, representing 75 different countries, will ride multiple laps on the Richmond circuit for world titles.

“As a nonprofit, we are involved in various fundraising efforts, much like the AVSC,” Kallman said. The Podium Club behind-the-scenes experience is one of the revenue sources for Richmond 2015, he said.

The Ajax Cup team-racing model, which has been utilized at the USA Pro Challenge cycling events in Aspen, enticed Kallman, who was integrated into the Aspen Cup this year by organizers Pam Alexander and John and Jackie Bucksbaum.

The Richmond 2015 Podium Club experience was auctioned off Tuesday at the post-Ajax Cup awards party at the St. Regis Hotel in Aspen.

“We’re expecting about a half-million on-site spectators over the nine days of the world championships,” Kallman said, adding that the last Road World Championships in the United States were held in Colorado Springs in 1986.

In an effort to globalize cycling, UCI decided to hold the world championships outside of Europe every five years, Kallman said.

“It’s been very European-based,” he said of worlds, held last year in Italy and the previous year in the Netherlands.

But with the change in policy, the 2010 UCI Road Worlds were held in Melbourne, Australia.

USA Cycling officials considered options for future worlds in the U.S..

Richmond, with a history of major bike races in the 1980s and 1990s, responded.

“Richmond had all the infrastructure. We’ve got a huge, world-class convention center,’ Kallman said. “We’ve got the hotel rooms. And we’ve got a great course.”

Richmond 2015 launched in December 2010.

“It snowballed from there,” Kallman said, adding to the cycling-skiing parallel.

Community support programs blossomed.

“It wasn’t necessarily because Richmond is a rabid cycling town,” Kallman said. “But it’s about becoming more bike-friendly. It’s about getting people on bikes for recreation and transportation.”

And, he said, the community support soared.

“The community got behind it because they got the big picture of it … we’ve always talked about it as more than a bike race,” he said, adding that there will be ancillary events like concerts and participatory events.

“Just like the Pro Challenge (in Colorado),” he said. “From a Virginia standpoint, it’s an economic development opportunity.”

One of the build-up events, he said is the August Moonlight Ride with 4,000 cyclists on a twilight ride on a closed road.

Richmond, a center of Civil War history, also hosted major cycling events like the Tour of America in the 1980s.

“In the late ‘80s and ‘90s, we had the Tour de Trump, which became the Tour DuPont,” Kallman said.

Plus, Richmond recently hosted the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships as a preparation event for the UCI Worlds.

With the new road worlds coming to Richmond this year, Kallman said the international television exposure will be invaluable.

“The international television coverage is huge,” he said, “hundreds and hundreds of hours of live coverage. The world championships in Europe have the (TV) penetration of the Super Bowl here. And, as you know, the very nature of cycling on TV is like a picture postcard.”

Travel partners

He said the Richmond 2015 travel partners have been booking special cycling trips in connection with the UCI Road World Championships.

Several groups will arrive early and take bike rides in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains before the races.

“We’ve got big groups coming from Asia and Australia,” he said, adding that the European travel partners are active, as well. Groups of avid cycling fans from Belgium also have booked trips to the world championships in Richmond.

“We’re doing this for a lot of the same reasons the Pro Challenge exists in Colorado,” Kallman said. “It’s to showcase the beauty and the assets of the state.”