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Bend bids to host U.S. Cyclocross National Championships

    Next year at this time, Central Oregon could be preparing to host the nation’s fastest cyclocross riders and one of the most fan-friendly of all bike races.

    Earlier this year, a local consortium announced its intention to try to bring the 2009 Cyclocross National Championships to Bend. And late last month the group submitted a formal bid on the event to USA Cycling, the governing body of cyclocross in the U.S.

    Bend tourism and city officials, along with the Oregon Sports Authority, a statewide sports development organization, signed off on the bid for the 2009 championship, which would take place over four days in mid-December and would be expected to draw approximately 1,800 racers. According to an Oregon Sports Authority news release, the Cyclocross National Championships typically attracts an additional 2,000 visitors to the event, including support staff, families and media.

    If given the nod, Bend would host both the 2009 and 2010 championships. The 2008 Cyclocross National Championships are scheduled for Dec. 11-14 in Kansas City, Mo.

    Officials from USA Cycling expect to announce the winning bid sometime next month. According to Andy Lee, spokesman for the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based organization, four cities from across the country, including Bend, are vying to host the race. (Lee declined to name the other candidates.)

    Lee noted on Monday that USA Cycling is looking for a city that can accommodate thousands of visitors in terms of lodging and air transportation. Emphasis is also being placed on a championship-caliber course, community support, and experience in organizing national-level races.

    “Bend is one of several communities that has a strong history of supporting cycling at the national level, not just ’cross but road- and mountain-bike races,” said Lee. “We’re also looking for a challenging course — not something overly difficult, but a course that warrants crowning a national champion.”

    Those who hope to bring the race to Bend have tapped Portland’s Cross Crusade race director, Brad Ross, as the event’s would-be chief. Ross was previously race director for Central Oregon’s Cascade Cycling Classic, and he presided over the national cyclocross championships in 2003 and 2004, when the races were held in Portland.

    The Northwest is well known for its love affair with cyclocross — a hybrid of mountain-bike and road-bike racing in which riders compete on a circuit course consisting of pavement, grass and dirt sections, along which riders are forced to dismount and carry their bikes over a series of obstacles.

    Weekend races in the Portland area typically attract some 2,000 riders, and the city also plays host to the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, a national race series featuring the most competitive ’cross fields in the country. Bend is home to Ryan Trebon, the 2006 National Cyclocross Champion, who is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation. And scores of other professional and amateur cyclocross riders live in Central Oregon as well.

    According to Arran Gimba, project manager for the Portland-based Oregon Sports Authority, the submitted bid touts Bend as an attractive destination for cycling and emphasizes the region’s considerable enthusiasm for the sport among fans, riders and local officials.

    “Bend is a gorgeous city with so many trails and so many options,” Gimba said Monday. “We presented USA Cycling with a convincing package explaining why Bend is the perfect destination to host these events.”

    — Excerpt from the Bend Bulletin, November 11, 2008


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