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Criterium bicycle races return to downtown Salisbury this week

SALISBURY — The Giordana Crossroads Cycling Classic returns to Rowan County this week for the final events in a six-day series of bicycle races.
Following a criterium race around the grounds of the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis on Wednesday, racers will converge on Salisbury for a night race downtown on Thursday and the finale in City Park on Sunday.
The criterium racing events have become a big tourist draw for the city, with hundreds of cyclists representing 21 states participating in last year’s events.
The lights will go up on North Main Street about dusk Thursday as the downtown criterium race kicks off, said Neal Boyd, of Charlotte Sports Cycling.
Six different races across different categories will be held between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Thursday, with thousands of dollars in prizes in different categories.
The top 30 competitors in each race category will earn prize points, with thousands of dollars in the purse for the individual omnium and sprint competitions.
The Salisbury nighttime race “is one of the favorite courses out of the six days,” Boyd said.
Other races are held in Mocksville, Statesville and Asheboro.
Downtown Salisbury’s is “the most unique course we have because it’s a figure-eight,” Boyd said. “If you stand in the middle, you can see the cyclists racing in both directions.”
Boyd said the series’ partnership with the Salisbury-Rowan County Convention and Visitors Bureau has been a boost for the local economy.
The tourism agency is the title sponsor of the series and has been promoting local hotels and restaurants, Boyd said.
Salisbury was also picked for the final race in the series, where the last awards will be given out.
“People are obviously staying, driving and eating here,” Boyd said. “They’re spending money, their travel and tourism dollars, here.”
That includes not only the racers and their friends and families, but those who travel to see the events.
“The nice thing about this, with the nature of these short courses, (locals) can watch a lot of the racing,” Boyd said.
For Thursday’s race, food will be for sale downtown and free family entertainment will be provided.
Crews will start closing some downtown streets at about 5 p.m. Thursday, Boyd said. The race starts at 6 p.m.
The start / finish line is on North Main Street across from the courthouse.
Adjacent blocks of East Council Street, East Liberty Street, West Kerr Street and West Cemetery Street make up part of the course.
Those streets will be closed until about 10 p.m. Thursday, Boyd said.
Spectators won’t have difficulty seeing the racers as additional lighting will be in place around the course.
Boyd said he expects as many as 300 cyclists to race Thursday, and as many as 350 on Sunday.
Sunday’s race at Salisbury City Park won’t result in road closures, Boyd said.
Full information is available online at crossroadscyclingclassic.com.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.

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