For the past 12 months Portland resident Kevin Hyland has worked 40 hours a week on a big dream: He wants to bring the UCI Road World Championships to Portland in 2026.
This major event is a jewel in professional cycling’s “Triple Crown” along with the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. It has been held every year since 1921 (except for a pause during World War II) and has only been on United States soil twice: in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1986 and in Richmond, Virginia in 2015.
“I’m not a racer, I’m just a guy who loves riding his bike,” Hyland shared with me during a recent conversation. He said he was inspired to embark on this quest during a ride with a friend who recently moved here from The Netherlands. “We live in such a beautiful place and we’re lucky to be able to ride,” Hyland recalls his friend saying. “I’m surprised we don’t have a major international bike race.”
Since that light bulb went off, Hyland has met with dozens of people. He has shared his vision with advocacy and nonprofit leaders, elected officials, government agency and tourism staffers, business owners, investors, and more. He’s gotten a long list of endorsements from notable Oregonians and bike racers. He’s assembled a team and has put together a 501c3 nonprofit organization that will run the event — and dole out proceeds to grassroots cycling programs statewide.
“I’m convinced that the greater Portland area has the resources, know-how and passion for cycling, to successfully host the Cycling World Championships.”
While new to race organizing Hyland is a seasoned professional who knows his way around our city. A 50-year Portland resident, Hyland spent 35 years in sporting goods sales for companies like Nike, Gatorade, and Adidas.
Here’s his pitch: “I’m convinced that the greater Portland area has the resources, know-how and passion for cycling, to successfully host the Cycling World Championships. I also believe that this amazing event will bring the community together, re-energize the bike movement in the region, provide a lasting economic boost, and create global exposure for Portland and Oregon tourism, business development, and future athletic events.”
Hyland points to the success in Richmond. When they hosted the event in 2015, over 642,000 spectators from 29 countries took part in the 10 days of events and competitions and the event pumped $161 million into the regional economy.
It all sounds promising; but there’s still a lot of work to do. Hyland estimates he’d need thousands of volunteers to pull off the event. And then there’s the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), a group of experts that can handle the finances, legal issues, media relations, IT, and so on.
If Portland is chosen as host, the event would consist of 12 competitive races: Six road races and six individual time trials (where racers go against the clock). Course routes and start locations are still being ironed out (Hyland has met with leaders of the Portland police, transportation and and fire bureaus); but we know the road race would be about 80-140 miles long and would include the West Hills. Time trials would be on the east side and could be held on a major arterial. All events would finish on NW Naito Parkway.
In addition to the races, there would be ancillary events like live entertainment, festivals, and expos. The largest pro cycling teams from around the world would bring their team vehicles, superstar riders and devoted fans — all of which would add to the excitement.
Suffice it to say, Hyland and his team have a lot of work ahead of them.
Right now they’re putting together an initial bid that’s due January of next year. If the UCI accepts that, they’ll visit Portland to meet the Local Organizing Committee to see if we’re World Championship material. If they like what they see, a formal bid is due in July. The UCI will decide on the 2026 host city at their annual conference in September 2020.
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