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Fayetteville, Arkansas, the home of the 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships, will see world-class competition before next year.
The UCI announced Thursday the northwestern Arkansas city will host a cyclocross World Cup on October 13, 2021. This will mark the first time that the three-year-old FayetteCross cyclocross festival boasts a World Cup event.
FayetteCross race director Brook Watts is confident that the course will impress everyone.
“I can confidently say there is no other cyclocross course like this in the United States, perhaps anywhere,” Watts, FayetteCross said. “We have been building this course for the past 16 months, with each meter of the course dedicated to bringing the best out of this beautiful Fayetteville mountainside.”
The autumn event will give spectators a taste of what’s to come in a few months later, when the UCI Cyclocross World Championships will be held at the same venue on January 29-30, 2022. The 2022 event will mark only the second time that cyclocross worlds has been held in the U.S.; the last time was 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky.
That event was plagued by financial peril, a threat that shouldn’t be an issue in Fayetteville due to the strong government support and robust financial backing of the Walton Family Foundation.
Northwestern Arkansas has successfully become a regional destination for cycling, especially mountain biking, thanks to its 100+ miles of singletrack built over the last 10 years. The Walton Family Foundation, a charitable organization supported by the children and grandchildren of Walmart founder Sam Walton, has donated more than $70 million to cycling trails and infrastructure.
When the location of the 2022 event was announced in 2019, stakeholders said they wouldn’t stop at a world championship.
“Our wish is, starting with 2022, we want to see World Cup cross-country races in Fayetteville, World Cup cyclocross in Fayetteville, national championships, and everything in between,” Brendan Quirk, cycling program director of the Runway Group told VeloNews. “We want this to be a fixture on the scene for cyclocross and cross-country mountain biking.”
Further sealing Fayetteville’s stamp on the cycling map, on Thursday the city was awarded the designation of ‘Bike City’ by the UCI. It is the first city in the U.S. to be given this label and joins cities and regions around the world, such as Copenhagen and Paris, that have previously received the designation due to their commitment to developing cycling at all levels — from elite competition to the use of bikes for leisure and as a means of transportation.
The UCI Bike City label supports cities and regions that not only host major UCI cycling events but also invest in developing cycling through programs and infrastructure. The City of Fayetteville’s bicycle master plan, along with professional events like the Joe Martin Stage Race, FayetteCross, and the future 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships, helped the city receive its designation.
“I am thrilled and honored that Fayetteville has been named a UCI Bike City,” said Fayetteville’s mayor Lioneld Jordan. “This is a powerful affirmation of the work Fayetteville has done for decades – and continues doing – to make cycling accessible for everyone.”