RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond 2015 kicked off Friday night after years of planning with a capacity crowd at the Opening Ceremony on Brown's Island.
This World Championships date back to 1921 and haven't been held in the U-S for almost 30 years.
In front of more than 12,000 spectators, dignitaries and the world's best cyclists, UCI opened the competition. NBC12 meteorologist Andrew Freiden served as Master of Ceremonies for the event, which including children, American Idol star Rayvon Owen and the Richmond Symphony.
Marjorie Barnes and her husband, Valmore, were some of the early birds trickling in to Brown's Island as the gates opened. They're from Richmond and were looking forward to the fun.
"I'd like to see all the bicyclist of all different nationalities from all over the world. That's going to be exciting," says Valmore Barnes.
A few spectators quickly turned into hundreds and then thousands. Richmond 2015 worked to impress, with Henrico-native Owen singing the national anthem..
"There's a great energy out here tonight and I'm glad to be apart of it," says Owen who sang backed by the Richmond Symphony, followed by Team USA and a parade of flags carried by local kids, each flag representing a country participating in the big bike race. The ceremony presentation where local leaders welcomed in visitors from around the world.
"It's a very nice city. The people are very kind. So, it's fantastic," said Marc De Paepe, who came all the way from Belgium to see the race.
Local and state leaders hope the ten-day event will provide a chance for the region to put its best foot forward.
"My hats off to everybody. This is great for America. It's great for Virginia and it's great for Richmond and its surrounding areas," said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.
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