In a meeting this week in Ponferrada, Spain, cycling's governing body will decide the 2017 host city for its Road World Championships. It is expected to announce Bergen, Norway, this afternoon, but three other candidates – Innsbruck, Melbourne and Bogotá – are also in line and there is a question of €10m to be paid.
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) would not confirm the candidates to Cycling Weekly when asked on Wednesday, but it said that it would decide and announce the host on Thursday. In 2012 at the Valkenburg Worlds, Bergen put in its bid for 2016 and 2017. Shortly afterwards, Doha won the bid for 2016 and Norway’s western coast city shifted its attention to 2017.
"Bergen is Norway in a nutshell," the city's mayor, Trude Drevland said. "It's a taste of everything, all close, surrounded by seven majestic mountains and a gateway to the fjords. It's a super city."
The city does not want to pay the UCI's €10m or £7.8m price, however. According to Pro Cycling Norway, the organising committee is only offering £5.5m (€7m) instead of £7.8m. The 2017 announcement should have come last year at the 2013 Worlds in Florence, but was put off until this year and during that time, three other candidates emerged.
Innsbruck, Austria; Melbourne, Australia; and Bogota, Colombia; stand in line with Bergen. Colombia hosted the Worlds in 1995, when Abraham Olano won, Austria had the Worlds in 1987 and 2006 and Melbourne had it just four years ago in 2010 with Geelong. Norway's last and only time came in 1993, when Lance Armstrong won in Oslo.
Norway reportedly has a £15.9m [€20.3m, $26m] total budget for the 2017 Worlds. Cycling Weekly telephoned Norway cycling's president, Harald Tiedemann-Hansen, but he was not available for this article.
France's Plouay and Belgium were also in the running for 2017, but both lost interest over the last two years. Belgium is spending its money on a second velodrome in Zolder, adding to the Eddy Merckx velodrome in Ghent, and considering hosting the 2018 Worlds.
"It hasn't been since Zolder in 2002 that Belgium has organised a World Championships," Rik Debeaussaert, member of the organisational committee, told Belgium's weekly magazine, Sport. “For a cycling nation like ours, that's an eternity.”
The date would mark 100 years for several World War I sites. To get the money, Debeaussaert said that the committee would involve all of Belgium, having events from Flanders to Wallonia.
Bergen appears the likely host beforehand in 2017, but the UCI will decide that by tomorrow with a possible surprise in store for one of the three other candidates.
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