Tuesday, June 14, 2016

By Stefan Coleman

Soon in Iowa City, cyclists will ride through mud, sand, and grass, pick up their bike and run, and possibly even hurdle during one of the most prestigious international events — the Cyclocross World Cup.

Named as one of the host cities by the Union Cycliste Internationale, Iowa City will host the cup Sept. 24 at the Johnson County Fairgrounds. Las Vegas, Iowa City will be the only two cities in the U.S. to host the Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup event.

Cyclocross, a sport enjoyed mostly in Europe, is a form of bicycle racing that consists of many laps on a short course. These courses usually feature many obstacles, usually off road.

The World Cup is the highest level in cyclocross racing, and people from all over the world will compete.

Iowa City’s race, the Volkswagen Jingle Cross, is the largest in the nation, and it will be held on one of the highest-ranked courses in the world, which is why Switzerland-based Union Cycliste Internationale chose it for the cup.

Jingle Cross Race Director John Meehan said the event will bring a lot of tourists and attention to the city.

“There will be a tremendous number of people from all over the world attending this event,” he said. “In fact, 85 percent of the participants are from outside of Iowa.”

Because the event has to lure and maintain the interests of people from all over the world and people of different ages, the organization will also host a recreational ride and other events for spectators to enjoy.

Jeremy Powers, the current U.S. national cyclocross champion, said he’s excited to compete against athletes from around the world.

“As an American, I am very excited for this event because I get the chance to represent my nation while doing something I love,” he said.

It’s a sport that gets your adrenaline pumping because of the fast-paced tempo, Powers said. He compared the race to a boxing match, saying it’s easy to get interested because there’s something exciting happening every second.

The Cyclocross World Cup has been advertised and promoted all over Iowa City and supported by local bike stores Geoff’s Bike and Ski and World of Bikes.

Geoff’s Bike and Ski has advertised the event, and Nick Sobocinski, a 10-year employee, said he looks forward to bringing it to the local scene.

“This is without a doubt the biggest event hosted at Jingle Cross,” he said.