The Martin Agency Welcomes Cycling Event to Richmond Like It’s the Next Civil War

Etchings honor city's history

The American Civil War and the UCI Road World Cycling Championship may have more in common than you think … this year, at least.

A new passion project from The Martin Agency toys with the fact that the 2015 installment of the cycling competition is taking place in Richmond, Va., where the agency is based—and also where a number of historic battles took place some 150 years ago.

So the agency made a series of faux-vintage, Harper's-style etchings—evoking how the magazine once illustrated news of the Civil War—featuring cyclists in battle, thronging toward the finish line, cheering, crashing and wielding tattered flags against landmark backdrops like Malvern Hill and Hanover Courthouse, which aren't far from the championship's routes.

The prints, created by scratchboard artist Steven Nobel, will be posted around Richmond. The event begins this Saturday and runs until the following Sunday. (The event was not involved in the campaign, and these are not paid ads.)

Click the images to enlarge.

Accompanying local radio spots feature voice actors reading letters home, describing the race in a florid style more common to the mid-19th century than the present day—with a couple of modern twists thrown in, to good effect. (The juxtaposition of one reader calling a bicycle a "proud metal steed" and then shouting "You da man!" is especially rich.)

This year marks the second time the U.S. has hosted the annual sports event since its 1921 inception. Colorado hosted it in 1986. 

@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.