Salisbury is host city for criterium race
By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — What Neal Boyd describes as NASCAR on two wheels is coming to Salisbury this week.
The 2011 Giordana Crossroads Classic organizer said the five-day cycling event will begin in Concord on Wednesday and wrap up in Salisbury’s City Park on Sunday.
“The goal of the event is really multidimensional, promoting and introducing bike racing to the masses, free entertainment for the community and provides an economic impact on the community,” said Boyd, the organizer of the event.
The Salisbury-Rowan County Convention and Visitors Bureau is the primary sponsor for this year’s event, which means three of the five races will be held here.
“We tailored the event this year to bring people to Salisbury even through there is a day in Statesville and a day in Concord,” Boyd said. “We are only promoting Salisbury hotels at the event.”
Though the sponsorship cost the visitor’s bureau $10,000, Executive Director James Meacham said he expects the economic impact will be worth it.
“We felt it was a good chance to put something on during what is historically a slow weekend in August,” he said.
Meacham said no local tax dollars go to support the event.
“Everything from our organization is generated by occupancy taxes,” he said. “So it’s all generated and paid for by visitor revenue.”
Between 300 and 350 bikers are expected to participate per day, Meacham said.
“That means more people in hotels, more people in restaurants and more people buying gas here, so there is a greater economic impact to the community,” he said.
Boyd said the biggest difference in this year’s event is an additional race — the High Rock Road Race.
The Downtown Salisbury Criterium will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, the High Rock Road Race will start at 8:30 a.m Saturday and the City Park Circuit Race will begin at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.
Boyd said although spectators can enjoy the beauty of City Park they won’t quite catch as much of the action as the other races.
“The more exciting one is downtown because we use a figure eight course,” he said. “That’s a real popular one because you can kind of stand in the middle of the course and see a lot of the race.”
More than $20,000 worth of cash and prizes will be awarded to the winners of the races.
Cyclists can register online at www.crossroadscyclingclassic.com
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.