Sep 29, 2022 - Sports

Fayetteville preps for cyclo-cross World Cup event

A muddy cyclist climbs stairs before riding down the other side.

A competitor in last year's World Cup event. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

Kids are back in school. The air is crisper. And leaves are turning. The change can only mean one thing — cyclo-cross meets Halloween.

What's happening: Fayetteville's Centennial Park will again host a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Cup competition, attracting a slate of international athletes on Sunday, Oct. 16.

  • Organizers added two days of activities before the pros compete, hoping to draw families and enthusiasts with amateur races.

Why it matters: Hosting UCl-level events brings international attention to NWA as a cycling destination and gets mileage out of the $3.3 million Centennial Park, built precisely for this purpose.

  • Yes, and: It's fun as hell to watch.

Context: The World Cup is a qualifier event (think Monday night football) for the World Championship (think Super Bowl).

  • This World Cup is the second in a series of 14 competitions — one of only two in the U.S. — leading up to the World Championship in the Netherlands in February 2023.
  • Cyclo-cross is not to be confused with mountain bike racing, which was held here in April.

By the numbers: The championship is what was held in Fayetteville last January. It drew more than 17,000 spectators, including an estimated 6,000 from Europe.

  • That event spiked hotel-motel-restaurant tax collections to be the highest ever for the month of January in Fayetteville, a 144% increase over the previous year, Molly Rawn, CEO of Experience Fayetteville emailed Axios.
  • Between 650-700 amateurs are expected to race on Saturday, Oct. 15.
  • It's too early to know how many elite and junior women and men will compete on Sunday.

Details: Last year, the competition was held on a Wednesday — in the rain — but still drew a significant crowd of dedicated spectators. Organizers hope more will turn out for the weekend event and have added attractions for younger people, including costumes and candy. A complete schedule is available, but for an idea of what to expect:

  • Friday — UCI races begin at 10am and run through the evening. Kids will be encouraged to trick-or-treat throughout the expo.
  • Saturday — Amateur races begin at 8am and run all day. Outrageous costumes are welcome for both spectators and competitors. Registration is still open.
  • Sunday — Amateur juniors start at 8am and UCI racing begins at 9:15am.

What they're saying: "I don't care if you're 2 or 102, we've got a race for you," Brannon Pack, director of cycling tourism for Experience Fayetteville, told Axios.

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