UCI Selects United States for Cyclo-Cross World Championships
Fayetteville, Arkansas park chosen as destination for 2022 race
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Feb. 1, 2019) – The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announced that the 2022 Cyclo-cross World Championships will be held in Fayetteville, Arkansas Jan. 29-30, 2022. This marks only the second time the championships have been held in the United States. The announcement came today in Bogense, Denmark, site of the 2019 Cyclo-cross World Championships, after ratification by the UCI Management Committee.
BikeNWA, a Northwest Arkansas-based nonprofit that fosters a thriving cycling culture in the Northwest Arkansas region, will lead a coalition of community partners in organizing the World Championships. Thanks to a grant provided to BikeNWA by the Walton Family Foundation at the recommendation of Steuart Walton and Tom Walton, this event will be the culmination of a four-year plan to bring world-class cyclo-cross racing to the region.
That plan includes continuing the support and growth of the local cyclo-cross scene through infrastructure development and education, as well as bringing multiple national-level cyclo-cross events to Northwest Arkansas leading up to the World Championship event in 2022.
Cyclo-cross is a fall and winter cycling discipline that has grown dramatically in the last decade, especially in the United States. Competitors race on a spectator-friendly course approximately 1.75 miles (3 km), in length that includes short steep hills and obstacles that may require dismounting and running with the bike. Races take place ‘rain or shine,’ making cyclo-cross riders some of the toughest across disciplines.
Organizers of the event, along with public figures in Northwest Arkansas, expressed excitement about an event of this caliber taking place in Fayetteville.
“We’re excited that all eyes will be on Fayetteville,” said Paxton Roberts, executive director of BikeNWA. “The cycling facility being built at Millsaps Mountain is world-class, and our hope is that this is the first of many UCI events to come for Millsaps — both cyclo-cross, and cross-country mountain biking.”
Millsaps Mountain is one of the newest additions to the Fayetteville Parks and Recreation system and is located close to the University of Arkansas. The new cycling-centric park is an outstanding example of a public-private partnership coming together to benefit the community.
The park, funded in part by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, will be developed with state of the art cyclo-cross and mountain bike features. The development of Millsaps Mountain is a part of a larger strategic plan of connectivity to the town’s 42 miles of established natural-surface trails as well as to a larger, regional trail network that will total more than 400 miles by 2022.
Co-managing the Fayetteville 2022 organization and serving as race director will be Brook Watts, a veteran race organiz- er familiar to cyclo-cross fans as the first to bring UCI World Cup Cyclo-cross to the United States. Watts has a long history in the sport of cycling and cyclo-cross in particular.
“I’m excited to partner with BikeNWA on the culmination of the annual cyclo-cross season in 2022,” Watts said. “That may seem quite far away, but we’ll have elite international races each year beginning in 2019.”
The mayor of Fayetteville, Lioneld Jordan, said an event of this scale serves to further highlight the extraordinarily rich cycling culture that exists throughout Northwest Arkansas.
“The City is thrilled to welcome the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championship to Fayetteville in 2022! When we acquired the acreage for Centennial Park at Millsaps Mountain, our vision was to develop a new trail system to serve the emerging mountain biking industry as well as to preserve lands to serve local hikers and trail runners,” Jordan said. “This event is proof certain that we can continue to dream big for our future. We are always happy to roll out Fayetteville’s hospitality red carpet and share the unique attributes of our beautiful city with visitors from across the world!”
The World Championship weekend will be part of a multi-day festival for both new fans and die-hard cyclo-cross aficio- nados. The race will be the pinnacle of a weekend filled with activities and events that showcase all that Northwest Arkansas has to offer.
Champions will be crowned in six categories during the two days of racing: Elite Men, Elite Women, Under-23 Men, Under-23 Women, Junior Men, and Junior Women.
Competitors from approximately 30 nations will be racing while spec- tators are expected to travel from across the globe.
For more information, visit Fayetteville2022.com
HOW WE GOT HERE:
Northwest Arkansas as a World Championship Cyclo-Cross Destination
Northwest Arkansas and bicycles have a storied history, and a bright future. Arkansas, known as the Natural State makes a perfect place for cycling, with an abundance of nature, and trails made for riding. Evidence of the region’s love affair with bicycles is longstanding, but is apparent through commitment to cycling-specific infrastructure, like the Razorback Greenway, or the longstanding relationship with road racing in events like the Joe Martin Stage Race which is the longest-lived UCI stage race in America.
But cycling in the area found its stride in the mid-2000’s, and has been skyrocketing in popularity ever since. In fact, Northwest Arkansas is a true cycling destination: NWA has more cyclists daily per capita using its trail system than San-Francisco, and more than 90,000 bicycle tourists visited the region in the last year to mountain bike. According to a recent economic impact study, cycling provided about $137 million across local business spending, tourism, and the public health impact in Northwest Arkansas.
Northwest Arkansas’ steady rise to national and international cycling prominence stems from the strong support of cycling by many organizations in the region, several of which are involved in this initiative.
BikeNWA: BikeNWA educates, inspires, and activates the Northwest Arkansas community to become champions for cycling. Founded in 1999, BikeNWA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working to create a more bike-friendly community by advo- cating for safe, connected bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure; supporting programs and events that foster a thriving, fun cycling culture; and ensuring that diverse constituencies have a voice through the Bike Alliance, which fosters collab- oration among cycling-related nonprofits in the region.
The Walton Family Foundation: The Walton Family Foundation is where opportunity takes root. The foundation invests in three main areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and invest- ing in their home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. The NWA bike scene has benefited massively from those investments in the ‘home region,’ where grants from the Walton Family Foundation have supported the area’s expansive network of trails at every step. Over the last 10 years, the foundation has contributed $74 million toward the construction of 163 miles of trails. The centerpiece is the $38 million Razorback Regional Greenway, a 37-mile shared-use paved trail that links the major cities in the region. As a result of this and the development of soft-surface trails, cycling is helping boost the local economy.
Oz Trails: Once completed, the cyclo-cross- and cross-country trails at Milsaps Mountain will be a part of the Oz Trails network, which represents all things mountain biking in Northwest Arkansas. It’s the all-encompassing network of soft-surface trails, bike shops, volunteer groups, breweries, and the riders themselves. Oz Trails is the path the mountain biker experiences while in Northwest Arkansas. Being a promoter of cycling across Northwest Arkansas, Oz Trails stands behind year-round Ozark single-track as a force in community building, healthy living and the pursuit of fun.
The City of Fayetteville: Fayetteville, Arkansas, is a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community — the highest ranked city in the state. As a bicycle friendly community as designated by the League of American Bicyclists, Fayetteville is among an elite group of communities across all 50 states that are transforming neighborhoods to be more cycling inclusive. The World Championship couldn’t be hosted in Northwest Arkansas without support from the City of Fayetteville, where lead- ers have welcomed cycling as a wonderful way to experience everything the city has to offer—restaurants, shopping and nightlife— all accessible from the saddle.
The Impact of Cycling and Trails to Northwest Arkansas*
• Northwest Arkansas is a true cycling destination: NWA has more cyclists daily per capita using its trail system than San-Francisco, and more than 90,000 bicycle tourists visited the region in the last year to mountain bike.
• Cycling provided about $27 million in Northwest Arkansas tourism spending by out-of-state visitors.
• Bicycling in NWA provided $137 million in benefits to the economy in 2017, where $51 million of those benefits directly impacted local businesses.
• Bikes are making an impact on NWA citizens. Nearly one third of Northwest Arkansas residents consider the availability of paved bike infrastructure important in deciding where to live.
• 35 percent of Fayetteville residents have rode a bike in the past year.