Friday, December 6 2013 8:51 PM EST2013-12-07 01:51:42 GMT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The international spotlight is on Louisville as the city hosts the Cyclo-cross World Championships.
Andy Murphy is a volunteer for the sporting event. He says, "It's really cool being from Louisville and seeing guys from Switzerland and know they're national champions from Belgium, from Austria."
Some of the featured 300 riders from about 25 countries are already arriving in Louisville. The championships will be held at Eva Bandman Park on Saturday and Sunday and are expected to draw crowds of around five thousand per day. Until then, crews are working hard to get the course ready.
Murphy says, "We're pounding posts. We're driving stakes. The metal fencing you see here, there's over 20,000 feet of metal fencing."
The World Championships started more than 60 years ago and have always been held in Europe until now.
Karl Schmitt with the Louisville Sports Commission says, "This is the fastest growing cycling discipline in North America and the fastest growing in the world, and they wanted to give people in the U.S. an opportunity to see the best of the best compete."
Cyclo-cross is a form of bicycle racing that began in Europe when bikers took to the trails in the winter to train. Competitors go through pavement, sand, grass, steep hills, and around man-made obstacles, and many times the rider has to get off the bike and carry it while navigating the course.
One of the most challenging parts of the course is the limestone step up. Huge pieces of limestone were put into the hills to create a step-up on the course. Some athletes will run up the steps with their bikes, others will ride up the steps to get a faster time for the championships.
Schmitt says, "This is the Olympics for these athletes in this sport. It is several million dollars in economic impact, dollars coming into our community. Several million in Europe will see this in prime time. Others in Asia, there is a feed to be picked up by sports channels in Asia."
Even though we're days away from the competition, River Road is already closed from Edith Avenue to Frankfort Avenue. It'll be closed through next Tuesday, but all business will remain open along River Road.