B y Linda Ellingsworth
Almost 4,000 cyclists are expected in southern Washington County this weekend, when the ninth annual Tour of the Battenkill takes place on Saturday and Sunday, April 13 and 14 in Cambridge.
With more than 3,000 amateur racers from 40 states and 15 countries participating in 2012, the Tour of the Battenkill is America’s largest one-day classic-style road race. This year’s race has more than 3,500 cyclists registered, according to organizer Dieter Drake. It’s also known internationally as America’s toughest road cycling race, he added.
This year’s event will include the U.S. Military Elite Cycling Team. On Friday, members of the team will talk to Cambridge school children about their experiences as elite racers and military personnel. Team founder Jim Elliot hopes that the team’s participation in the event will have an impact on the community’s youth.
“I am excited to share my experiences on how cycling has helped me with my personal life and my career,” he said.
The race expo and rider registration moves to Varak Park this year, adjacent to the finish line on Main Street. Beginning on Friday, the expo will continue throughout the weekend with local food and crafts, cycling and fitness vendors and sponsors, and a beverage tent featuring Brown’s Brewery and live entertainment by the Roadside Blues Band on Sunday afternoon.
Age group and category races will be held on Saturday, while a new “Gran Fondo” class, open to the public, will take the place of the eliminated professional men’s race on Sunday. The Gran Fondo will begin at 11:30 a.m. on Main Street, and features an age-group competition on chip-timed segments of the course, mechanical support, closed roads for the first six miles of the course, and a post-ride awards ceremony at the expo.
Also on Sunday, there will be a Kids Tour of Cambridge at 10:30 a.m., with bike races for kids ages 12 and under at Varak Park on Main Street. There is no registration fee, but riders must have their own helmet and bike. The Kids Tour is sponsored by the Cambridge Lions Club and Anthem Sports.
All weekend races finish on Main Street at Varak Park.
The tour also includes an Expo featuring many vendors on Friday, April 12 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday, April 13 and 14 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be fun events each day.
For more information about the Tour of the Battenkill, visit www.tourofthebattenkill.com.