This year’s UCI World Cycling Championships in Richmond aren’t the first time that the championships have taken place in the US, as back in 1986, the Worlds were held in Colorado Springs. However, that wasn’t the first time that the World Cycling Championships were in the country either.
Before the UCI was founded, another world championships were held. The International Cycling Association (ICA) was founded by Henry Sturmey in 1892 and it organised its first world championships the following year. The founding members of the ICA were the cycling associations of the United Kingdom, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, and the United States.
The world championships in 1893 would be limited to amateur riders and Chicago was the chosen venue to coincide with the World’s Columbian Exposition or the World’s Fair. The races would take place at South Side Ball Park in conjunction with the national championships.
There was controversy before the championships even started when the Italian cyclists were prevented from competing as they had supposedly broken the amateur rules of the organisation. It was claimed that the Italian riders had sold cycling trophies and medals they had won for cash.
It wasn’t only the Italians who were missing though, as the distance from Europe to Chicago put off many top European riders from travelling.
The star of the championships turned out to be Arthur Zimmerman who won both the one mile and ten kilometre championships, while the South African Laurens Meintjes won the 100-kilometre stayer’s championship.
Zimmerman won his first gold on the 11th of August when he took victory in the 10km race in a time of 15′ 56″ 20. In doing so, he became the first ever World Champion. The following day, he won the sprint.
The winners of each of the events received a gold medal and all other participants received a silver medal.
Sprint – 1 – Arthur Zimmerman (USA), 2 – Julian Pye Bliss (USA), 3 – John S. Johnson (USA)
Stayers – 1 – Laurens Meintjes (South Africa), 2 – Charles Albrecht (Germany), 3 – B. Ulbricht (Germany)
10km Sprint – 1 – Arthur Zimmerman (USA), 2 – Julian Pye Bliss (USA), 3 – John S. Johnson (USA)
Zimmerman was subsequently sponsored by Raleigh, and received appearance money and cash prizes from race organisers around rhe world, so had to relinquish his amateur status. The Times reported the following year that he had accepted a $10,000 offer from the Union Velocipedique Francais to race in France.
The UCI would be formed a few years later after a dispute amongst the member countries of the ICA. The UCI would then take over control of the world championships, organising it from 1900 onwards.