Cyclo-cross festival hopes to bring world championship to Providence

(Photo by Brian Butler, WPRI-TV)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — “Cyclo-cross is to cycling what punk rock is to music,” said Richard Fries, the president of the KMC Cyclo-cross Festival, which brought cyclists to Providence last month to traverse trails and hills of Roger Williams Park. Cyclo-cross, which is far more popular in Europe than the United States, is a form of bicycle racing that forces the rider to dismount in order to go up hills or navigate past obstructions.

Fries is hoping to make Providence the first American venue to host the sport’s World Cup, starting in 2015. The festival announced Friday morning that the UCI, the Union Cycliste Internationale, which oversees the sport’s World cup, would welcome a Providence bid.

The announcement was made at the Rhode Island Foundation, with Governor Lincoln Chafee and Providence Mayor-Elect Jorge Elorza among those in attendance. Both the governor and mayor-elect Elorza spoke in favor, with Elorza confessing he was already a two-time attendee of the festival.

2014 was the sixth year of the Providence festival. This year, 10,000 fans and riders came for the competition, and it’s a boost to the local economy.

“It’s great to fill our hotel rooms and to have this growing sport come here and show people… what a great state we have, and how we support all sports, but particularly cycling,” said Gov. Chafee.

Elorza added that living active lifestyles is a key factor in his priorities for the city. “I do want Providence to be the most pedestrian-friendly, the most bike-friendly, the most public transportation-friendly city in the United States,” including more bike racks at schools and parks, and more dedicated bike lanes on streets, he said.

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