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The Walton family’s involvement in cycling continues to grow.
The UCI today announced that Walmart is now the title sponsor of the 2022 cyclocross world championships, which will be held in Fayetteville, Arkansas, just minutes away from Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville.
Tom and Steuart Walton are the grandsons of Walmart founder Sam Walton. The brothers, via the Walton Family Foundation, their investment group RZC, and incubator firm the Runway Group, have put more than $70 million in trails and infrastructure, and have also invested in Allied Cycle Works and purchased a majority share in Rapha for some $225 million.
The Runway Group in 2018 hired Competitive Cyclist founder and former Allied CEO Brendan Quirk to build Northwest Arkansas into a cycling hub.
Just a week ago, Quirk was elected as USA Cycling’s chairman of the board. Quirk lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Ahead of the 2022 Walmart ’cross worlds, Arkansas has already hosted a UCI World Cup for cyclocross, two U.S. Pro Cups for mountain bike, and the Rule of Three gravel race. This weekend is the Big Sugar Gravel Race.
Despite their major influence and passion for cycling, the Waltons prefer to keep a low profile, and almost always decline interview requests. VeloNews has asked and has never been able to speak with them.
The following quotes were sent out in a release from the UCI.
“We are delighted and proud that the 2022 edition of the UCI cyclocross world championships, the discipline’s annual flagship event, can count on the support of Walmart, the largest retailer in the world,” UCI president David Lappartient said in the release. “The arrival of an economic player of this stature is testimony not only to the discipline’s appeal but also, more broadly, to that of cycling, whose societal benefits are increasingly being recognized.”
Walmart senior director of brand experiences and partnerships Kim Tunick said Walmart is proud to be title sponsors of the world championships where the company was founded nearly 60 years ago.
“This sponsorship demonstrates our commitment to the community and promoting healthy and active lifestyles for our customers and associates,” Tunick said.
Experience Fayetteville custom-built a course for the 2022 worlds, and it was used for the first time this month in the second stop of the World Cup.
“With the world-class venue and course that has been built, we anticipate hosting many more exciting cycling events in the area in the years ahead,” said Molly Rawn, CEO of Experience Fayetteville.
Next year’s world championships will be the second time the U.S. has hosted the event in its 72-year history. The first time was in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2013.