Cyclists Plan Red Bank Road Race

first_imgBy John BurtonRED BANK – Professional cyclists could be taking competitive laps around the borough this summer, organizers are hoping.The National Cycling Association (NCA) and the USA CRITS Professional Cycling League want borough officials to approve its plan to hold a championship cycling event on Aug. 6 that organizers say would draw roughly 200 professional racing cyclists and more than 5,000 spectators.Organizers have already found a primary sponsor:  Triumph Brewing Company has agreed to support the proposed event, according to Jack Simes, chief executive officer for NCA and producer for Red Bank Championship Cycling. Simes is also the co-founder of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pro Cycling Championship.Triumph, which has locations in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and Princeton, is constructing a Red Bank site on Bridge Avenue, as part of the West Side Lofts project.Adam Rechnitz, an area resident, is owner and operator of the brewing company, and he and his twin brother, Josh, are both cycling enthusiasts who have thrown their support behind the event, Simes said.Simes said organizers had a meeting with the borough Special Events Committee and organizers are planning to bring a slightly revised plan back to the committee as soon as it can be scheduled. “It’s already 2016 and there’s a lot of planning to do,” Simes pointed out.The committee includes borough administrator Stanley Sickels, a police department representative as well as a representative from the borough council, among others, who evaluate the proposals before making their recommendations and forward them to the mayor and council, who have the final say on approval.Organizers also met with James Scavone and Amanda Lynn, executive director and program manager for Red Bank RiverCenter, respectively, to stress what organizers say will be an economic benefit for the business community. “It was quite well received,” by the RiverCenter representatives, said Simes.RiverCenter is the management and advocacy organization for the borough’s commercial Special Improvement District.“From the meetings we had, they seem genuinely interested in this and having a well run event in Red Bank,” said event director Ryan Oelkers, a former professional racing cyclist who spent 10 years on the race circuit, referring to borough representatives.“We think Red Bank is the perfect venue for the event we want to run there,” Oelkers said. “You have the Navesink River there; you have the bars and restaurants. It just seems like a great fit.”Plans call for the main event staged by USA CRITS, in which racers compete in a .99-mile criterium street event. The races will start and end on Broad Street with the route on Harding Road, Clay Street, Canal Street, Mechanic Street, Globe Court and on to East Front Street, through the borough’s downtown, according to information provided to the special events committee. Those races would take place in the early evening, probably starting at 7 p.m.Criterium racing involves high-speed contests conducted in an active, urban environment. If approved, it will be one of 13 races USA CRITS will hold between March 19 and Sept. 17, from Boston, Massachusetts, to Clearwater, Florida, to Boise, Idaho and St. Louis, Missouri, and are expected to attract some of the best cyclists from around the world. Racers will compete for more than a total of $250,000 in prize money for the series of races.In addition to the main event, organizers are planning supporting activities. There will a “Gran Fondo” (Italian for “Large Ride”), an amateur ride from Red Bank to Freehold and back that would be open to riders of all abilities. In addition, Simes said plans call for an ongoing youth program to promote safety and cycling as a healthy lifestyle activity. “Cycling has proven to be a great activity in fighting childhood obesity,” Simes said. “More so than many other sports.”“This will be something that will be good for business, good for the cafes and restaurants,” with hopes that this will become an annual event, Simes said.Mayor Pasquale Menna said he didn’t have any details about the proposal, but noted a similar annual event held in the borough more than 20 years ago. That event was eventually discontinued because of complaints from residents and businesses, according to the mayor.Neighboring Fair Haven hosted Tour de Fair Haven cycling races for five years but canceled the event after a racer was killed colliding with a race official in 2013.A similar event, the Athens, Georgia, Twilight Criterium, has been held for 30 years. And, according to Oelkers, “It’s their biggest night and day in their calendar year,” of events, a clear success for local businesses.Oelkers also suspected August is a good time for the event, given it’s a traditionally slow period for attractions.last_img

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