In year's past, the International Cycling Classic has been a training ground for some of the top cyclists in the world. Riders such as Jonathan Cantwell have even gone on to compete in the most prestigious race in the world. Cantwell took sixth in Stage 4 of this year's Tour de France.
The event came back to Geneva for the third consecutive year Sunday with the Mill Race Cyclery Classic. Attendees hoped to catch glimpses of the future Tour de France talent with professionals who would whip by at speeds approaching and topping 40 mph in the sprints.
The day began slowly with a lean crowd for the first contest of the day, but the number of spectators grew as the morning aged and the heat remained comparatively low. A dozen amateur women began the day's worth of racing and rewarded the cheering crowd with a competitive contest.
Some riders fell off the pace early as there was a collision on the first lap of the day. Halfway through the 20 miles, there was a clear group of six women drafting each other and creating distance from the other competitors. (Drafting reduces the wind resistance a rider most overcome when pedalling, meaning less energy is needed to keep pace. Using that strategy, the number of cyclists with a chance to win the first race thinned to five a couple of laps later.)
The cyclists competed on a .7-mile course with six turns shaped like a reverse "L" that ran mostly through Third and Campbell streets in downtown Geneva.
The early standout was 19-year-old Lindsay Aspen. The Canadian took both prize laps with sprints showing she'd be tough to beat in a race if it came down to the wire.
"She clearly has a good sprint," said the announcer as Aspen won a racing shirt by defeating the rest of the field in a single lap. "That could be a good indication of how things go. She's shown her hand."
That race call would prove prophetic.
No one challenged Aspen to burn the sprint out of her legs, and she roared through the final lap of the course in just over 2 minutes to claim the victory.
The Mill Race Cyclery Classic was only the second day of two weeks of racing for many of the competitors. SuperWeek features a race every day of those two weeks for interested competitors in Illinois and Wisconsin. Saturday's event was a criterium in Wood Dale. Races vary in length with the top talent pedalling 55 miles in a given contest.
There are cash prizes for the top finishers at each level. There is also a children's race featuring everything from Big Wheels and tricycles to mountain and road bikes. Top competitors in the adult races uses very lightweight bikes with up to 20 gears.
Race organizers plan on returning to Geneva in 2013.