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Classic Criterium to kick off weekend's Tour of Washington County bike races

More than 125 riders are registered for Friday's event and another 250 are registered for the entire weekend

June 10, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

Two-wheeled speedsters will take to the streets of downtown Hagerstown on Friday to kick off this weekend’s Tour of Washington County bike races.

The event gets under way with the Kick-Off Classic Criterium in Hagerstown’s Arts and Entertainment District, according to a news release from the city.

“Hagerstown and Washington County will be the mecca for bicyclists the weekend of June 15 through the 17,” Joe Jefferson, race director, said in the release.

The race attracts professional athletes for competition, Jefferson said. Inspired by theTour de France,stages include road races, time trials and downtown circuit events, he said.

More than 125 riders are registered for Friday’s event and another 250 are registered for the entire weekend, he said. Adding in spectators and the families of competitors, several hundred people are expected for the entire weekend’s card, Jefferson said.

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“It’s the second year in a row that we will kick off the full racing weekend with a downtown event at night,” he said of the kickoff in Hagerstown.

Hagerstown’s track follows the same course as last year’s race, starting on South Potomac Street before several right-hand turns onto Baltimore and Hood streets.

From there, riders will take three more rights onto Summit Avenue, West Washington Street and at Public Square to race back to the start-finish line.

Some roads will be closed in the area of the race during the four races Friday. Events will begin at 5:30 p.m. and is expected to conclude at about 10:30 p.m.

Racers of several skill levels will take part in 45- to 75-minute races around the 0.8-mile loop through downtown at speeds of up to 30 mph, which requires precision handling and concentration, Jefferson said.

“Essentially, it’s like NASCAR racing on bicycles,” he said.

Friday’s kickoff will include about $5,000 in prize money for competitors, including $2,000 in the elite race for professional riders, which is set to begin at 9 p.m.

Co-sponsored by SRAM, a bicycle component manufacturer, the weekend event is expected to generate about $300,000 for the county, Jefferson said.

Visitors are invited to bring their bicycles and ride the course in a parade that begins Friday evening’s festivities from 5:30 p.m. to about 6 p.m., Jefferson said. Helmets are required.

Competitive racing begins at 6:30 p.m.

The Tour of Washington County continues Saturday and Sunday, when cyclists participate in races in and around Smithsburg, Boonsboro and Williamsport.

More information can be found at www.avcracing.com.

Other activities

The weekend of June 15 to 17 marks a busy weekend of events in Hagerstown, according to the news release.

In addition to the Kick-Off Classic Criterium, the city-sponsored Wind Down Friday will start at 6 p.m. outside The Maryland Theatre, featuring the music of Exit 1 and Compadres. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for those 12 and younger.

Hagerstown is also hosting the First Call Weekend, a 150th Civil War anniversary expo, Saturday and Sunday at City Park.

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