Looking forward: Nevada City Classic weathers challenges in preparation for 59th edition
Special to The Union
KNOW & GO
WHAT: 59th annual Nevada City Classic Bicycle Race
WHEN: Sunday, June 2: Kids Parade, 11 a.m.; Nevada City Mile, 11:15 a.m.; Jr. Male/Female, 11:50 a.m.; Elite Men 4/5, Master Men 35+, 12:40 p.m.; Women Elite 4/5, Master Women 35+/45+, 1:30 p.m.; Master Men 1/2/3, 2:30 p.m. Elite Men 3/4, Jr. Male 15-18, 3:30 p.m.; Women Pro, 4:30 p.m.; Men Pro, 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: Downtown Nevada City
The Nevada City Classic is a tradition like no other in Nevada County, and as it prepares for its 59th edition this Sunday, it faces a myriad of new challenges.
The second longest running bike race in the country has long been held on Father’s Day, but in 2018 was moved to one week later. And this year, the race was moved again — this time forward a few weeks — due to conflicting events, circumstances and changing weather, organizers said. The truncated preparatory period and changed date have made securing riders, volunteers and supporters difficult.
The date change was made largely to avoid conflict with other significant cycling events in the country. However, the Cascade Classic, a popular week-long stage race in Oregon that had previously been shut down, has been brought back on the same weekend the Nevada City Classic was moved.
Duane Strawser, longtime organizer of the Classic, is optimistic that this year’s Classic will be looked back on as a gathering year that leads to a reinvigorated event for the historic 60th race and onward.
WHO’S THE NEXT STAR?
Despite losing out on some of the top pros this year, Strawser said the level of competition will remain high and the field composition could allow for a lesser-known rider to make their mark. Strawser points out that the Classic has a long history of elevating previously unknown riders into cycling stardom.
Greg LeMond, one of the all-time greats of the sport, won the race multiple times before becoming a three-time winner of the Tour de France. More recently, Ian Boswell won the race before joining the top team in the world, Team Sky, and placing fifth in the 2017 Tour of California.
Strawser believes the wide open field this year could allow the next Boswell to emerge from the pack.
The Classic rivals far bigger races in terms of technical challenge and difficulty, particularly as a criterium, but the atmosphere of the race has always been what sets it apart.
“We still are very unique, there are very few communities that have a bike race … and if they do it’s in a business park, a mile out of town with 50 people watching,” said Strawser, adding that, “This race is what it is because of Nevada City.”
Schedule changes, bad luck and all the rest aside, the Nevada City Classic stands ready for the 59th running through downtown Nevada City on Sunday. Much like a cyclist on the challenging course, Strawser said the race is gathering itself on the downhill to launch into the next challenge.
Visit http://www.nevadacityclassic.com for more information on this year’s race, and the history of the Nevada City Classic.
Kael Newton is a Nevada County native and freelance journalist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @KaelNewton on Twitter.
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