Bergen to host 2017 Road World Championships
Bergen is alight with excitement after being chosen as the site for the world championships
Norwegian American Weekly
The International Cycling Union made their final decision during a meeting in Ponferrada, Spain, and announced Bergen’s victory on Thursday, September 25. The city’s politicians, press, and cycling enthusiasts are thrilled to welcome the world’s top cyclists to western Norway.
“Road World Championships on Norwegian soil will create joy, excitement, and enthusiasm throughout the entire country. I am happy that Bergen, Hordaland, and the Norwegian Cycling Federation have succeeded in their application with the International Cycling Union,” commented Minister of Culture Thorhild Widwey.
The world championships will take place over nine days in September of 2017 in Bergen and neighboring towns. The event is considered to be the world’s third-largest sporting arrangement, and has great potential to boost the sport of cycling in Norway.
The idea of hosting the world championships in Bergen originated with Steinar Remme, the father of Norwegian cyclist Stian Remme. After Bergen organized a successful national championship in 2008, Remme suggested that the city apply for the international competition.
“It was great to get the confirmation. We’ve had faith in this for many years, but I knew that my palms were sweating as we stood here and waited. It would have been a huge letdown if we hadn’t gotten it,” admits Remme upon hearing the good news.
Norway first submitted a bid for the 2016 event, but Doha, Qatar, was chosen. In December 2013, Bergen applied for the 2017 bid. But just as Bergen thought they had escaped the competition several other candidates emerged; the cities of Innsbruck, Austria; Melbourne, Australia; and Bogota, Colombia, also submitted applications. Prior to the International Cycling Union’s decision, Bergen saw Bogota as the main competition.
Now that Bergen has reason to celebrate, the city can start preparing. This will only be the second time that Norway has hosted the event, the first being the 1993 championships in Oslo.
City council leader Ragnhild Stolt-Nielsen responded to the news with enthusiasm. “We have been so excited and worked so hard since we got the idea from cycling enthusiasts. To see that we succeeded and hear that it will be Bergen—and hear that we have gone from being a candidate city to being the hosting city—it’s just fantastic,” said Stolt-Nielsen to NRK. “Ask the people of Bergen to participate in a celebration and big sporting event, and magical things will happen,” adds Stolt-Nielsen, claiming that the world championships will be the biggest event Bergen has ever hosted.
Trude Drevland, the mayor of Bergen, agrees that the Norwegian city is the right choice for the event. “Bergen is Norway in a nutshell, it’s a taste of everything, all close, surrounded by seven majestic mountains and a gateway to the fjords. It’s a super city,” he said.
“We’re talking about 330 million TV-viewers. Through TV screens, we will have the opportunity to present the world’s most beautiful city and region. This means more that it’s possible to describe today. I don’t think we understand the significance of this now. We must be deeply thankful for the great job done and that the International Cycling Union chose our values over any others,” added Mayor Drevland, looking forward to the benefits of the exposure.
Bergen may in celebration-mood at the moment, but there is a lot of work to do in the next three years. For a successful event, the city requires many volunteers and substantial monetary support. In fact, Norway’s doesn’t want to pay all of the International Cycling Union’s price of €10 million (81.5 million kroner or $12.8 million) with a total budget of just 156.4 million kroner.
Of course, the Norwegian cyclists also have a feat ahead of them as they compete for a spot in the championships in their home country. “It doesn’t get much closer to home than this,” says Kristoffer Skjerping, the cycler from Sotra, just west of Bergen. “It’s incredibly important that the World Championships came to Norway at all. And that it’s coming to Bergen is a big dream, and it is of course my goal to participate,” adds Skerping, who won gold in the 2012 national road race in Bergen.
Three years may seem like a long time, but when it comes to the world’s third largest sports event, it’s time to get to work!
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 3, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.