RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After four years of planning and anticipation, Richmond 2015 has officially arrived.
The 2015 UCI Road World Championships, cycling’s pinnacle event, kicked off Friday as more than 12,000 visitors flooded Brown’s Island for tonight’s Opening Ceremony.
In total, the nine-day event is expected to attract as many as 450,000 from across the globe to the River City.
“We’re big cyclists, enjoy to ride a lot and watch Tour De France every year and we’re excited to see the teams and all the cyclists in all the events,” said Derrick Wozniak, who traveled to Richmond from Sarasota, Florida to witness this year’s event.
Added Laura Adams with the Richmond symphony, which performed during opening ceremony, “the world comes to Richmond. So we just want to celebrate that and make sure everyone has a great time while they’re here.”
Before the Richmond Symphony took the stage, “American Idol” finalists Rayvon Owen performed the National Anthem.
The ceremony included state, federal and local elected officials in addition to UCI President Brian Cookson and featured a parade of flags representing each participating country; the flags were carried by youth from around the Richmond region, and the Armstrong Cycling Corps led the way for members of Team USA.
“The whole event is literally joining us together in a brotherhood,” said VCU student Jaylin Brown
Die-hard fans said it is an honor to be so close to world-class athletes.
“It’s very interactive with some of the best athletes in the world, so it’s an amazing place to be,” said John Jenks.
For him and others in town for the race, there’s something that sets cycling apart from other sports.
“If you were a football fan, you could go to see the Superbowl. But here, you can go see the cycling Superbowl and the guys who are the quarterbacks, you can walk up and talk to,” Jenks said.
This is the first time the UCI Road World Championships are being held in the United States since 1986.
Stay with us as we’ll provide updates on opening ceremony throughout the evening right here.