Cyclists from around the country, Europe race in Geneva
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A busy two weeks awaits professional and amateur cyclists from around the world as they race this month in Illinois and Wisconsin in the International Cycling Classic.
Saturday's Geneva Cycling Grand Prix will be the second stop of the series. Races start at 10 a.m. at Franklin and Seventh streets. There will be seven races, and event co-organizer Rob Kelley said the professional races should not be missed.
"If you've never seen a bike race, the best (time) to come out is at 3:40 p.m. for the women's pro race and then 5:45 p.m. for the men's," Kelley said. "It's the best because it's the highest level of racing."
The closed course is a one-mile circuit. The seven races will differ in skill level and distance. All races are free for spectators.
This is the second year for the races. Last year's was put together by Mill Race Cyclery. Bike Heaven has taken over, and owner and co-race organizer Ara Oggoian, who has a race team, said he's been wanting to organize a race.
"We have a racing team and we compete in all the local Chicago races. We've wanted to put our own bike race in Geneva since we're located in Geneva," said Oggoian, who has about 40 riders on his team.
"The Fox River area has a lot of people who ride and this is a national-caliber event. So it's exciting for our racing community."
Oggoian said he's expecting between 700 and 800 racers with 100 to 125 riders in each of seven races. In addition, 15 to 20 European pros will compete. Last year's races featured between 650 and 700 cyclists.
Kelley compared the races to NASCAR because the competitors will reach top speeds of 40 mph which, he said, is very fast on a bike.
"Everyone rides on the same course so you get to compare the Category 5's (amateurs) to what the pros look like," Kelley said. "It's just a lot of bikes going very fast in a closed space so it's exciting."
Oggoian and Kelley have been friends since they were 10 and growing up in Geneva. They also ride together, with Kelley a Category 1 racer and Oggoian a Category 2. Oggoian said the bike racing is becoming more popular.
"I think even if you just watch one race that can take a half an hour, you're going to be incredibly entertained," Oggoian said.
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