With the Cyclocross World Championships coming to the United States for the first time ever in 2012 (Masters) and 2013 (Masters and Elites), much of the cycling world has turned its gaze westward. Now USA Cycling has announced that Richmond, Virginia, will bid to host the Road World Championships in 2015.

From USA Cycling:

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced the city of Richmond’s desire to host the 2015 UCI Road World Championships. Richmond will represent the United States’ first bid for the event since it was held in Colorado Springs, Colo. in 1986. The nine-day event will award Junior 17-18, U23 and Elite road cycling and time trial World Championships for both men and women.

The UCI Road World Championships attracts athletes from more than 70 nations across five continents and represents the most important road cycling event in the world for participating countries. More than 1,000 cyclists compete to wear the coveted world champion’s “arc en ciel,” or rainbow jersey.

The World Championships attract more than 300,000 onsite spectators and is viewed by a global television audience of more than 300 million people. The 2010 Championships, held in Melbourne, Australia, generated tens of millions of dollars in economic impact to the host city.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the United States, and the city of Richmond in particular,” said Mayor Jones. “Our city is centrally located and easy to access, offers great lodging and tourist attractions, and is a strong supporter of athletic and cultural events. There is no better place for the 2015 World Road Cycling Championships than right here in Richmond, Virginia.”

Richmond’s bid is supported by USA Cycling, the governing body for all disciplines of competitive cycling in the U.S.

“With the phenomenal growth of the sport in the United States over the last 10 years, it is time for the sport’s marquee event to be hosted in world-class American venue,” said USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson, who was present at today’s announcement. “Richmond’s efforts to bring cycling’s biggest event back to American soil will not only be an opportunity to showcase one of the country’s most historic arenas to the world, but will also give hundreds of thousands of cycling fans in the Mid-Atlantic region the opportunity to witness the world’s best compete in one of the globe’s most popular sports.”

The bidding process for the prestigious event is highly competitive. If successful in its bid, Richmond will join cities including Rome, Madrid, Copenhagen and Florence that have hosted or will host the event. The winning city will be announced at the 2011 UCI Road World Championships and Annual World Congress in Copenhagen in September, 2011.

“The road world championships have not been held on American soil in my lifetime,” said Taylor Phinney, multi-time road and track world champion. “It will certainly give me, and the entire new generation of American cycling something to aspire to.”

“Having attended three previous world championships I understand the magnitude and prestige of this multi-cultural event,” said USA Cycling Professional Road National Champion and Virginia native Ben King, “Bringing that to the city where I was born would certainly be a defining opportunity and highlight of my cycling career.”

“Hosting the World Championships in Richmond would be an amazing opportunity for American athletes to compete for the sport’s highest honor on their home soil,” said Kristin Armstrong, Olympic gold medalist and time trial world champion. “The event would offer the United States the opportunity to showcase the level of cycling we have on this side of the pond.”