Sometimes a new shine on an old classic can make all the difference.
So when Nevada City Classic organizer Duane Strawser got a call from the organizers of the Folsom Historic Criterium looking to partner up for a Father’s Day Weekend that featured multiple bicycle races and multiple purses, he jumped at the chance.
“In the past, its been difficult to get riders to fly across the country for a Sunday race, one prize purse,” Strawser said. “Folsom came to us this year and asked if they could come onto Fathers Day weekend on Saturday. We had been trying for a while to get somebody in Auburn, Loomis, Sacramento, wherever, so it just works out well. It gives a two day package, double the races, double the money and it makes the trip worth it on any level.”
For most of its 54-year life the Nevada City Classic has been a stand alone event, but with dwindling participant numbers the last few years due to competing events, the Classic teamed up with the Folsom Historic Criterium to create the Sierra Historic Omnium to entice riders to come to Northern California for a weekend of racing.
“I’ve been wanting to bring an event like the Nevada City Classic to Folsom for years now,” said Folsom Historic Criterium event director Brian Joder. “Folsom has an up and coming cycling community.”
With the oldest criterium bicycle race on the West Coast teaming up with one of the newest for a Father’s Day weekend double dip, registration numbers are up, said Strawser.
“We are already seeing the registration go up,” he said. “Most are signing up for the two-day package because you can race in either or both. But we are seeing 70 percent of the pre-reg people are doing the two-day package.”
With the partnership, riders now have the chance to claim $23,000 in prize money.
The partnership is already paying off as several elite teams have registered several riders.
Making their presence known at the Nevada City Classic Sunday will be teams from Cliff Bar, Jelly Belly, California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized and Metromint.
A bit of history
Two-time defending champ Stephen Leece, a member of the California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized, has an opportunity to do something that only two men have done before — three-peat at the Nevada City Classic.
Only Bob Parsons, who won it five straight times from 1963-1967, and Greg LeMond (1979-1981) have won the Nevada City Classic three straight times in the 54 year history of the race.
Leece ended Ian Boswell’s two-year run in 2012, and solidified his spot at the top in 2013.
Strawser said he is not 100 percent sure that Leece will defend his title this year, but expects the talented cyclist will be competing.
Scott Moninger has won the Nevada City Classic four times (1994, 1997, 1999, 2006) but it was stretched out over 12 years.
“Bike racing in general is very difficult to string wins together,” Strawser said. “We have several top racers go three, four years without a win. In general you are going against 50-60 other people, so you have a huge pack of people, you have the team dynamic so teams are working against you, you have a mechanical item that you are riding, it could break a chain, get a flat tire; there are so many variables. For the stars to line up twice let alone three times would be outrageous on a course like ours.”
Others to keep an eye out for
Some big name riders that will also be at the competition include Roman Kilun, of the Mike’s Bikes Cycling team, Charles Hutchinson, from Marc Pro – Strava Cycling team, and Yanic Eckman of the California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized Cycling team. In the women’s race, recent transplant Robin Farina, of Pepper Palace Pro Cycling, will be competing in the women’s event. Two-time Nevada City Classic winner (2011, 2012) Katerina Nash, of the Luna Pro Team, is still a question mark as to if she will compete said Strawser.
While there will be approximately 20 members from the local SHO-AIR/SERT Cycling team entered in the various races throughout Sunday, what has Strawser excited this year is the local youths that will compete in the junior race. Strawser said to keep an eye out for local riders Decker and Brenner Krogh as well as Anthony Pritchett.
“For us to have three or four kids this weekend, locally based, thats pretty rare,” Strawser said. “The junior fields are small anyway and were lucky to have one local kid.”
Mid-June in Nevada County is rarely mild, and those who attend and compete in the Nevada City Classic know that all too well. But, this year there is some relief as skies will be clear and temperatures are predicted to be in the high 70s, possibly creeping into the low 80s according to accuweather.com.
“We are so fortunate,” said Strawser. “Historically we have always been 90 degrees or more, and we were known for that, people came here prepared to suffer in it. This is as good as it is ever going to get.”
The Nevada City Classic features a 1.1 mile course with seven turns that goes in a counter-clockwise loop with approximately 110 feet of climbing per lap and at times reaching sprint speeds of 50-plus mph on the straight-away downhill across the start/finish. The course is 1/3-downhill, 1/3-uphill and 1/3 rolling/flats. The race is considered one of the most technically and physically challenging one-day courses in America according to nevadacityclassic.com
Getting things started, as it usually does, is the kids race. The one-lap race open to any and all youths who wish to participate gets started at 12:45 p.m., the male and female Junior Division race starts at 1 p.m., the Men’s Masters Division starts at 2 p.m., the Women’s Pro Division gets rolling at 3 p.m., the Men’s Elite race is at 4 p.m., and the Men’s Pro division closes the day out with the longest race (90 minutes) which starts at 5 p.m.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.