CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The largest governing body of the cycling sport, USA Cycling is bringing its national championship games to the Capital City this May, and officials with the nonprofit corporation are in town now doing a little prep work before the major event.

USA Cycling CEO Brendan Quirk came on 580 Live with Dave Allen Wednesday to talk more about the USA Cycling Pro Road National Championship set for May 14 – May 19 in Charleston, which the City and the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau officially announced back in Oct. 2023.

Brendan Quirk

Quirk said they are currently in town mapping out the routes for the three-race, five-day competition that will feature the professional Road Race, Time Trial and Criterium races.

Through a process USA Cycling representatives conduct every several years where they put out requests to different cities across the country to host the championship, Quirk said they chose Charleston to be the next host after they presented the most tempting bid.

He said the city’s bid read something along the lines of being the “best metro city in the most rural area you will ever see,” and after a paying a visit to see for themselves, he said they were immediately hooked.

“We were just blown away by how beautiful it is, how welcoming the community was, and for us it was a no-brainer decision to come here,” said Quirk.

Quirk said similar to what you see during the Tour de France, the Road Race is the marquee event. He said the Criterium is a shorter, tighter race comparable to what you might see in the Bristol Nascar races, and the Time Trial simply involves participants racing against the clock.

However, he said while it may seem simple, the Time Trial event will this year be an Olympic-qualifying race, meaning the men and women who win in that race will be eligible to compete in the Paris Olympics this summer. He said that alone will draw participants and spectators in from not only across the country, but even the world.

“Bike racing is heavily a Europe-based sport, so our best athletes are in Europe, a ton of those athletes are going to be coming over here, coming to Charleston to try to qualify for the Olympic teams, so that is going to be a big, big day,” Quirk said.

He said those Time Trial races get underway on Wednesday, May, 15.

Quirk said the categories of each race will include professionals along with up-and-comers with the Under 23 category and the Junior 17-18 category.

While they are still working out the exact routes, Quirk said one aspect will involve the professional men’s teams climbing Bridge Road and descending from Loudon Heights both ten times consecutively. He said this will make for some incredibly dramatic racing.

“The aggression with which these athletes will take that decent, it will just make you want to cover your eyes because they are so aggressive,” he said. “Just as you can win a race on a climb, you can also win a race on a decent if you’re super aggressive.”

Quirk said USA Cycling plans to hold the annual championship in the Capital City for five years. Previously, the event has been held in the major cities of Philadelphia, Knoxville, Greenville, Chattanooga, among others.

He said the event has been an economic gold mine for the areas it selects to host in, bringing in millions of dollars every year. However, Quirk said Charleston will see the biggest economic impact from the event after they decided to expand it from only allowing professionals to participate to additional categories of biking.

“What we’ve done this year is we’ve added the U23 category, we’ve added the Junior category, so this is going to be like a festival of road cycling, this is going to be the biggest turnout of athletes, their families, their entourages, the biggest we’ve ever had,” said Quirk.

Finally, Quirk said while the event is a roadway race, residents should expect some travel impact during those five days in May. However, he said the peak of the travel disruptions should only occur on the weekend, May 18 and 19.

You can find more information about the USA Cycling Pro Road National Championship coming to Charleston here.