Competitive cycling to return to city

Published 9:01 am Friday, June 17, 2011

FRANKLIN—The city will host its first bicycle race in more than a decade on Saturday, July 16, and Sunday, July 17.

The Franklin Omnium, a three-race event, will include a time trial, a criterium and a street race, said Dan Netzer, president of Celerity Cycling in Norfolk.

“We wanted to do a large race with multiple events, and in Norfolk it’s hard to find a single course, much less three,” he said.

Netzer said city officials were on board immediately, and that made the decision to bring the race to Franklin easier.

“When we find a locality that’s excited, than we’re all in,” said Netzer. “Hopefully, it has staying power and can become an annual event.”

Frank Davis, Franklin’s director of parks and recreation, said the event will “be a very positive thing for the city.”

Davis said the cyclists, who will come from all over Virginia, will spend money with local hotels, restaurants and retailers.

The first leg of the race will consist of a time trial. In a time trial each racer starts solo and is followed by another racer about every 30 seconds, Netzer said. The time trial will both start and end on Main Street.

Later in the afternoon on Saturday, a criterium will take place. A criterium is individual racing split up by category depending on skill level. In all, there will be seven competitive categories. These range from Cat 1, which is for the fastest non-professional riders, all the way to Cat 5, for novice riders. Women’s and junior races also are planned.

Each race in the criterium will begin on Main Street with a mass start. Netzer said the course for the criterium, which will travel down Main Street and continue through Third, Franklin, Fourth and onto High Street before heading down Second to First and back to Main, will be a tough course for riders because it consists of eight corners.

The third and final race in the omnium is a road race, which will consist of laps around a 14-mile course beginning at Hunterdale Elementary School. Netzer said experienced riders will travel 70 to 80 miles in the road race.