12/15/2011 - Asheville in running to host USA Cycling Cyclo-cross national championships
by Karen Chavez - Asheville Citizen Times
ASHEVILLE -- Forget "Beer City USA." The city's new moniker -- if the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission wins its bid -- could be "Bike City USA."
On Wednesday, USA Cycling, the national governing body for cycling sports, announced the city is one of three finalists to host the 2014 and 2015 Cyclo-Cross National Championships. The event venue would be on the Biltmore Estate, the first time it would be held in the Southeast. The other two cities in the running are Austin, Texas, and Boulder, Colo.
The Sports Commission submitted a proposal to USA Cycling in late October with the help of Biltmore Estate, the Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the local cyclo-cross community, said Ben VanCamp, sports commission executive director.
"Asheville is already a destination for world-class mountain biking and road riding. The time of year of this race -- January -- had a lot to do with us going after the cyclo-cross national championships," Van Camp said.
"It's a good time of year, the hotels would be really interested. We started talking to some venues that would have enough parking and space, and the Biltmore Estate was very excited about it."
USA Cycling will visit Asheville in January to evaluate the proposed course, venue and facilities at Biltmore, a sprawling, 8,000-acre private estate just south of Asheville on the banks of the French Broad River.
Travis Tatham, Biltmore's director of entertainment and events, said the proposed venue would be in the Antler Hill Village area of the estate, on the existing mountain bike trails.
While Austin and Boulder all have "natural beauty and unique cultures," Tatham said, "we offer America's largest home. There's not another Biltmore House in any one of those cities."
Tatham said having such a high-profile national sporting event in Asheville, expected to bring in 1,500 to 1,800 athletes and an additional 2,500 to 5,000 spectators, would be a boon for the city. "The Inn on Biltmore has 200 rooms, so there will be a lot of hoteliers who will benefit," she said.