Why the World Cyclocross Championships is being held in Fayetteville: About the jumbo in America, the ultra-wealthy brothers who are major shareholders of Rapha and an independent organizer

Why the World Cyclocross Championships is being held in Fayetteville: About the jumbo in America, the ultra-wealthy brothers who are major shareholders of Rapha and an independent organizer

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How does the World Cup end in a country, and more specifically in an area of ​​that country, where there is not much cycling? Located in southern Arkansas (in the Ozarks, which you might know from the Netflix series), Fayetteville is one of the most conservative states in the country (we’ll get to that later).

In America, unlike Holland and Europe, cycling has the status of being an elite sport. a Liberal left It happens, for urban jazz fans, so to speak – a bit of a caricature, of course, but there’s a grain of truth in it.

The fact that the World Cup is now being held in Fayetteville has to do with three men. First of all, there are the Walton brothers (Stuart (40) and Tom (37)), grandchildren of Sam Walton. Walton bought his first store in Arkansas in 1945 and slowly expanded his empire into what is now the Walmart chain.

Walmart is the largest supermarket chain in the United States and as a result Tom and Stewart are swimming in money (billions!) but they don’t. Instead of swimming in the money, they ride a bike. Their investment company is a major shareholder in cycling apparel company Rapha and they have invested millions in cycling infrastructure in Arkansas in recent years. There are, for example, Oz Trails, a large mountain bike route through the Ozarks.

But the brothers wanted more. Cycling World Championships. This is where man number 3 enters the story. Brock Watts. 65 years old, from Colorado, and a known name in the cross world for years. He got a call if he wanted to look in Fayetteville for a possible World Cup.

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He thought it was a crazy story that they wanted to do something with the bikes there, but they went to have a look anyway, he told Wielerflits. He was excited by the environment, but even more excited when he learned that the Walton brothers were behind the call: an almost inexhaustible cash offer. And you really need money if you want to organize such an event and impress the UCI.

Watts worked his way up and it happened. The World Cup is about to end. But the latest twist in the story is that without Watts. He withdrew from the presidency of the organization last spring for political reasons.

The Republican majority in the Senate has become the first state in the United States to ban hormone therapy for transgender youth. An uproar in the liberal cycling community (it also made Dutch news by the way) and Watts asked the organization (read: Waltons) to publicly distance itself from the law that had been passed. They refused and Watts reached his conclusions.

Later, Tom Walton publicly supported the governor (Republican) veto of Arkansas on the law, but by then the damage had already been done to Watts. It is – ironically – in front of the TV in Europe. Friday evening already, on the mixed relay, because that discipline is Watts’ idea.

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