The 2015 UCI Road World Championships begins Saturday, Sept. 19, in Richmond, Virginia, marking the first time in 29 years that cycling's governing body will hold the event on U.S. soil.
For those fair-weather cycling fans who watch the final (at times anti-climactic) stage of the Tour de France and quickly return to ESPN's year-round football coverage, the Road World Championships may seem like just another of the many professional races throughout the year. Long, boring and inconsequential.
Well, to put it lightly, these blockheaded ignoramuses are sorely mistaken. To put this in perspective, the UCI World Championships are, in many ways, the FIFA, FIBA or IRB World Cup of Cycling. It's a chance for cyclists to remove their corporate-colored kits adorned with pieces of sponsorship flair and replace it with their national colors.
Below, we've compiled a little who-what-when-where-why-and-how breakdown of one of cycling's paramount events. So, click through at your discretion and you just might find yourself chanting, soccer-style (football for everyone outside the U.S.), to the pedal strokes of your fellow countrymen.
What Are the UCI Road World Championships?1 of 6
Considered cycling's pinnacle event, the UCI Road World Championships are an annual cycling event that, more or less, officially determines the greatest cyclists in the world, the aptly deemed world champions.
It's a nine-day event that features 12 races for Elite Men, Elite Women, Under 23 Men and Junior Men and Women. Cyclists can compete in four different disciplines: team time trials, individual time trials, time trial circuit and road circuit. The UCI declares a world champion for each discipline.
Also, instead of competing on sponsored teams — similar to that of most professional sports — athletes compete for their countries of origin, a la the Olympic games or World Cup.
When and Where Are the UCI Road World Championships?2 of 6
As mentioned before, this marks the first time in 29 years that the UCI World Championships will take place within our 50 states. Richmond, Virginia, all at once the home of some of America's founding fathers and the capital of the Confederacy, will host this prestigious event.
The event begins Saturday, Sept. 19, with the team time trial training. The first official competition kicks off the following day with the women's team time trial followed by the men's team trial that afternoon. The remaining events take place throughout the week, with the final competition — the men's elite road circuit — Sept. 27.
You can see the full schedule and courses here: http://richmond2015.com/about/courses/
Why Are the Road World Championships Important?3 of 6
Riding for their nations, the Road World Championships are unlike any other race. There's a sense of national and even individual pride – similar to that of other world championship events – that transcends checks for podium placements and corporate sponsorships.
If you watch any other cycling event through the year, you'll notice one or two riders wearing a white jersey with rainbow-colored horizontal stripes across his or her chest. These cyclists are the world champions, who wear this jersey as the defending champion in their respective disciplines.
How Do I Watch the Road World Championships?4 of 6
Unlike the Vuelta, which had limited coverage in the U.S., those living stateside can watch the Road World Championships on Universal Sports, NBCSN or CNBC. Mother station, NBC, will broadcast delayed coverage Oct. 4 from 12 to 1 p.m. EST.
You can also live stream the event at Richmond2015.com.
You can find the full television schedule here: http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/09/news/universal-sports-nbc-sports-group-announce-worlds-tv-schedule_384746
Who To Watch, Who's the Favorite?5 of 6
One thing that makes the Road World Championship so exciting is that, to put it in layman's terms, it's anyone's ballgame. Unlike multi-stage grand tours, where only a handful of cyclists have a realistic shot at winning, the Road World Championships are a one-day affair at the end of a long, grueling season, and anything can happen.
Imagine it as a single stage at the Tour de France. And whether it's a time trial or a hilly road stage, it's nearly impossible to guess who's going to come out on top.
So, sit back and enjoy the unpredictability.