Degree of difficulty: Downtown course pushes pedalers

Jul. 25, 2013 @ 04:10 PM

HIGH POINT — One thing that organizers of the High Point Cycling Classic did not have to worry about in advance of Saturday’s U.S Criterium Championships was designing a course.
That was taken care in 2012.
“I came up last year and helped choose it,” said Michah Rice, the vice president of national events for USA Cycling, which oversees the Criterium Championships. “They used the course a year ago and we liked what we saw.”
What was designed is an 8-turn course a little more than a mile in length.
From a start-finish line on E. Commerce near the transportation center, riders will go north on S. Hamilton, turn to the east on E. Broad, go south on S. Centennial, turn west on Commerce, south on S. Hamilton, west on Green, north on Elm and then east on Commerce back to the start/finish line as they make laps.
“Since this is one of our professional championships, we wanted a course that is physically and technically difficult,” Rice said. “We’ve got eight turns and we have a pretty tough hill as part of the backstretch. What we want is for the best men and women to win. We want to make it challenging enough that the cream rises to the top.”
Riders will keep completing laps until a time limit expires. The men’s championship race will start as a 110-minute event. A women’s professional championship race will be 90 minutes. Support races will be around 40 minutes.
“We wanted something with a little undulation,” Rice said. “We wanted it to be wide enough so it is safe but narrow enough that it is technically difficult. We don’t need a course that is four lanes wide but we didn’t want a section where a two-lane section goes to one. And we didn’t want turns where the pavement might be a little rough and cause a problem.”
Rice said High Point’s course will have more elevation change than the course in Grand Rapids, Mich., that was site of the Criterium Championship last year.
“It was flatter but there were some cobblestone streets that gave it character,” Rice said. “And the eight turns should keep people more interested than a course with a lot of long straightaways would. That should make it more spectator friendly.”