The international cycling union UCI chose Norway’s west coast capital of Bergen to host the next UCI Road World Championships in 2017. Bergen had fought hard to win the championships and beat out rival bids from Bogota, Innsbruck and Melbourne.
“This is something we’ve been dreaming about for a long time,” former top Norwegian cyclist Dag Erik Pedersen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “A cycling world championship in Bergen, hopefully without typical Bergen weather, with hundreds of thousands of spectators watching, and hopefully a Norwegian winning.”
‘New boost for the sport’
Bergen is known for its frequent rainstorms, but its surrounding mountains and fjords can provide a spectacular backdrop for the television pictures that can be seen by millions of viewers all over the world. Norwegian cycling officials, politicians in Bergen and state government leaders all claimed they were thrilled when Bergen was announced as the 2017 venue on Thursday in Ponferrada, Spain, where this year’s world championships are set to get underway.
“There’s lots of jubilation here that Bergen and Norway have won the cycling world championships,” Harald Tiedemann Hansen, president of Norway cycling federation (Norges Cykleforbund), told NRK on the phone from Spain. “I think the concept we put forward, the enthusiasm we can create in Bergen and the people’s party we want to mount has been decisive.”
He said he and his colleagues now face a “demanding job” over the next three years to organize the huge sporting event, which he believes will “give a new boost for the sport of cycling” in Norway. Oslo hosted the world championships in 1993, with Monica Valen and Thor Hushovd among those going on to win the championship in subsequent years.
Set to show off Bergen
Thorhild Widvey, the government minister in charge of culture and sports, congratulated Bergen and claimed a cycling world championship in Bergen “will generate joy and enthusiasm all over the country.”
The cycling world championships rank among the biggest athletic events in the world. “For Bergen, for Hordaland (County) and for Norge, this is enormous,” claimed Bergen Mayor Drevland, who didn’t spare superlatives. “We’re talking about 330 million TV viewers who’ll be watching. We will show off the world’s most beautiful city and area.”
The politicians didn’t seem worried about costs, either, which are budgeted at NOK 70 million to be covered by public funding with sponsors expected to pick up the rest. Sale of TV rights are expected to help offset the final pricetag.