FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS, 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 under the support and guidance 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 organizer 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 aficionados. 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 spectators are expected to travel from across the globe. (Candice Kozark)