RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - City leaders want to make Richmond the center of the cycling universe by hosting the UCI World Road Cycling Championships in 2015.
Lester Brown and his collegiate crew like to think about the possibilities.
"This is huge," said the VCU cyclist, adding, "Bringing in a national, in fact, world level event is gonna be amazing."
Richmond will represent the United States' only bid to host the UCI World Road Cycling Championships in 2015. Aside from the Tour de France, it's said to be the sport's marquee event.
Ben King made that point, as the U.S. professional road race champion.
"It's not just me, it's every cyclist in the world dreams of representing their country in the world championships," King said to an audience at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.
The championships take place over nine days. More than a thousand athletes from 70 nations compete in road races and time trials. If you're not among the estimated 300,000 who typically watch in person, perhaps you're part of the 300 million who watch on television, worldwide. The figures are based on the previous world championships, held in Melbourne, Australia.
"If our bid is successful," said Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, "the city and its partners would work diligently to capitalize on this wonderful opportunity and welcome the world to our beautiful and historic city."
City leaders and private organizers are still working on the budget for the bid, confident that the Richmond region will sell itself and expose new generations to a sport still aiming for a broader American fan base.
"I haven't seen a bike race around here since I was very small. So, I thought it was a fantastic opportunity for the city, and to get cycling going around here more," said Joseph O'Brien Applegate, a cyclist from William and Mary.
All bids for the 2015 championships must come from cities outside of Europe. Besides Richmond, bid organizers said only Quebec City, Canada, has announced a competing bid so far. There will likely be more to come.
The winning bid will be announced in September of 2011.