Cyclists converge to Clay County streets for national championship

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 6/23/21

CLAY COUNTY – After a successful first run at the Great American Road Race cycling weekend last October, bike racing returns to Clay County this weekend, from Thursday, June 24 through Sunday with …

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Cyclists converge to Clay County streets for national championship

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – After a successful first run at the Great American Road Race cycling weekend last October, bike racing returns to Clay County this weekend, from Thursday, June 24 through Sunday with the USA Cycling Amateur Road Race National Championship.

Bike Races will be staged in three locations; a time trial on June 24 at Camp Blanding at Kingsley Lake; a men’s and women’s road race also at Camp Blanding on Friday and Saturday, and, a final criterium, to be staged Sunday on Fleming Island off Old Hard Road and Town Center Blvd near Fleming Island High and the Barco-Newton YMCA. More than 400 racers will be competing in the event from 40 states and Canada for the honor of wearing the red, white, and blue jersey reserved for national champions.

“It’s a great honor for us to host a national championship and introduce everyone to all the great things Clay County has to offer,” said Joel Lamp, Senior Director of Tourism and Events for Airstream Ventures.  “These future Olympians are going to be shining on the global stage soon and thanks to all of our partners that have supported the event, we are able to provide them a challenging course that will provide a worthy national champion.”

After a successful first run of the weekend style racing of professional cycling in October with the time trial at Camp Blanding, the road race through the Penney Farms area and the criterium at the Thrasher-Horne Center, Lamp was confident that this latest event will offer vast exposure for the sport as well as for Clay County.

“This is a national championship event and that will bring cyclists from all over the country,” said Lamp. “The Great American Road Race was a good springboard for Clay County to host this level of competition.”

Racers started arriving on Wednesday for a 3-6 p.m. packet pickup, bike checks, driver meetings and caravan drivers training.

On Thursday on Treat Road at Camp Blanding, individual time trials were staged at 7:30 a.m. and moving to 2:30 p.m. with categories starting at Men Under 23 racers through 10 classes to Men Juniors 11-12-year-old riders. Top racers; U23 and Men’s Category 1 will ride 40 kilometers – about 25 miles – with juniors, men and women 13-14, 15-16 and 17-18 all racing 20K (9.3 Miles) and 11-12s riding 10K (6.2 Miles).

In the road race which will ride on State Road 16 in front of Camp Blanding for a bit then turn and circle Kingsley Lake on the Army Reserve base, women’s juniors 17-18 start the racing on the closed 18.9K (11.7 Miles) race course with four laps for women juniors 17-18, three laps (9:35 a.m.) for women’s juniors 15-16, six laps (11:40 a.m.) for men juniors 17-18, Cats 1-2-3, and four laps (3:30 p.m.) for men juniors 15-15 Cats 1-2-3. An awards ceremony will follow these races.

At 6:15 p.m. on a 7Km (4.34 Miles) course, women juniors 13-14 will start with four laps with women juniors 11-12 going off for three laps at 6:20 p.m. Awards will follow. On Saturday, road racing continues at 7 a.m. with Men’s Category 1 going nine laps on the 18.9K circuit; Men’s U23 19-22 Pro/Cat 1-2 start at 11:45 a.m. At 12:45 p.m., Cat 1 Awards and after the Men U23 race, those awards will be given out.

At 4:45 p.m. road racing continues with men juniors 13-14 doing five laps of the 7K course with men junior 11-12s going three laps at 7K at 6:30 p.m. with awards to follow.

On Sunday, criterium racing starts on Fleming Island at 8 a.m. with races lasting from 20 minutes to 75 minutes with awards in between sessions all the way to 6:30 p.m. The criterium course, a .75 mile loop, will be near Fleming Island High with racers riding making right turns from the corner of Village Square Parkway and Town Center Boulevard, right turn at Old Hard Road and a right turn back onto to Town Center Blvd. at the corner near Thunderbolt Elementary.

“We welcome all the competitors to Clay County and wish them the best of luck as they compete for the national title,” said Mike Cella, chairman of the Clay County Board of County Commissioners.  “We are honored to host the national championship and look forward to them having a great experience throughout the week as they get to explore our area.”

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