Professional road cyclists from around the country will converge on Virginia’s Blue Ridge for the chance to get their hands on a $15,000 total purse in the inaugural Virginia’s Blue Ridge Downtown Twilight Criterium on May 21.
A criterium, or “crit,” is a high-energy, fast-paced, spectator-friendly event that features a tight pack of 100 or more professional cyclists racing laps along a short course through downtown Roanoke. The schedule includes plenty of activities for spectators such as a Beer Mile Fun Run, Adult Big Wheel Races, race expo, and live music on the outdoor stage at Martin’s Downtown.
Looking to continue leveraging the region’s outdoor brand, the Roanoke Regional Partnership and Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau have partnered to bring this road cycling event to the region. The Partnership’s Roanoke Outside Foundation and Starlight Bikes are organizing the event.
“The Blue Ridge Marathon put the region on the map for running; and Virginia’s Blue Ridge Criterium will do the same for cycling,” says Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “A race of this caliber is something everyone should see. It’s the Tour de France crammed into our streets, and another opportunity to show off our thriving, outdoor-minded region.”
Landon Howard, President of the Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau (RVCVB), stated, “Virginia’s Blue Ridge Criterium presents a tremendous opportunity for the region to drive economic development, promote tourism, and showcase the area as a premier biking destination to visitors. This partnership will give the RVCVB an unparalleled platform to showcase the beauty and diversity of Virginia’s Blue Ridge. We are pleased to partner with the Roanoke Regional Partnership on this inaugural biking event.”
The three-quarter-mile course loops from Church Avenue to 3rd Street to Luck Avenue down 1st Street along Franklin Road and up Jefferson Street back to Church Avenue. The loop is designed so that spectators can feel like part of the action as cyclists race by every few minutes.
Pre-race festivities, including the Beer Mile Fun Run, Adult Big Wheel races, and race expo, begin at 4:30 p.m. followed by the professional races. The masters division (age 35+) will race for 45 minutes starting at 6 p.m.; professional women race for 60 minutes beginning at 7 p.m.; professional men will race 90 minutes beginning at 8:30 p.m.
You can find video to learn more about what a criterium looks like, a course description, full schedule of events, and more information at www.vbrcrit.com.