Fayetteville Flyer: Fayetteville to host world cyclocross championships in 2022

Fayetteville Flyer

Fayetteville will be the site of the world’s biggest cyclocross event in a few years.

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) today announced that the Cyclocross World Championships will be held at Millsaps Mountain in Fayetteville on Jan. 29-30, 2022.

It will be just the second time the United States has ever hosted the event, which was first held in 1950 in Paris, France. The announcement was made in Bogense, Denmark at the site of the 2019 world cyclocross championships.

Local organization BikeNWA will lead a coalition of community partners in organizing the event, which will be made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation. It is expected to be the culmination of a four-year plan to bring world-class cyclocross racing to the Northwest Arkansas region.

Competitors from at least 30 nations are expected to travel to Fayetteville to compete at the event. 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.

For those unfamiliar, cyclocross is a unique type of competitive racing that combines the speed of road bike races with the terrain of mountain bike events, held on shorter, spectator-friendly courses. Cyclocross bikes resemble road bikes, but with slightly wider, knobby tires for traction on off-road surfaces. Racers typically hop off and carry their bikes up steep uphill sections and over various types of obstacles in races that last between 30 and 60 minutes.

Millsaps Mountain was purchased by the City of Fayetteville in 2018 with a grant and loan from the Walton Family Foundation as part of a plan to build a 228-acre bike park.

It was the site of Oz Cross, a two-day cyclocross event held in November as part of USA Cycling’s American Cyclocross Calendar. It was also one of six local races included in the NWA CX Series, which ran from September through early December in cities across the region.

Co-managing the Fayetteville 2022 organization and serving as race director will be Brook Watts, a veteran race organizer familiar to cyclocross fans as the first to bring UCI World Cup cyclocross to the United States. Watts has a long history in the sport of cycling and cyclocross in particular.

“I’m excited to partner with BikeNWA on the culmination of the annual cyclocross season in 2022,” said Watts. “That may seem quite far away, but we’ll have elite international races each year beginning in 2019.”

The first and only other time the event has been held in the United States was in 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan said he’s excited to roll out the city’s hospitality red carpet and share the city with visitors from across the globe.

“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.”

For more information, visit fayetteville2022.com.

Samuel Slaton