European financial crisis may affect future World Champs venues
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The World Championships is looking for a home for the coming years. Though Italy, Spain and USA are planning to host the coming editions there may be some changes due to the economic crisis and Qatar may step in.
Spain and Italy are some of the hardest hit countries in the European financial crisis. In Italy there was some doubt about the 2013 Florence Worlds continuing after Silvio Berlusconi was kicked out in November 2011 and Mario Monti stepped in to lead an Interim Government. On Friday, however, the regional government of Tuscany and the city of Florence confirmed €32m for the Worlds.
The 2013 Worlds will be centred in Florence but with road races and time trials spreading though the Tuscan countryside. The road course should consist of a circuit with the Chiusi della Verna and Consuma climbs and a finish in Florence.
Last year, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) granted the 2015 edition to Richmond, Virginia, in the United States. Planning is going ahead for the Worlds, the first since Colorado Springs in 1986 and on the heels of the Cyclo-cross Worlds this winter in Louisville, Kentucky.
Spain is more complicated as the country faces unemployment of nearly 25 per cent. Ponferrada, west of Leon in northwest Spain, won the bid last year to host the 2014 Worlds, but needs an estimated €5m to ensure the event will run. It looks to the national government for funding, but as part of its cost cutting measures, Spain is threatening to halve its financial support to the sporting federations.
"We are committed, but with the [government] threatening to cut funding, there could be last-minute funding shortages," Spain's cycling federation president, Juan Carlos Castaño told the national news agencies last week. "The only way to assure solid funding is to look for private businesses to step up and help pay the costs."
Ponferrada won the 2014 bid after losing the bid for the 2013 Worlds. Late into the process, it was the only candidate bidding for 2014.
This week, the UCI may announce the 2016 host city. Doha, Qatar, is viewed as the heavy favourite, but attention, it may see the Worlds arrive earlier. The UCI might shift the 2014 Worlds to Qatar if Ponferrada's situation does not improve. The UCI was unable to comment when contacted, but an announcement is expected as early as this evening.
The move would allow Bergen, Norway, to host the Worlds in 2016 instead of 2017. This morning in Valkenburg, Norwegian officials announced its candidature for 2017, but also 2016. They said, "The coastal landscape will present the riders with varied and different challenges."
Belgium and France are pushing for the 2017 edition. Belgium wants to host the time trials in Flanders and the road races in Wallonia, running from various points with the finish in Namur, the same as the GP Wallonie. The total budget, according to Belgium's Het Nieuwsblad newspaper, would be €15m. It is money Spain has trouble finding and Qatar is willing to shell out.