Saturday's leg of the 2012 Tour of Elk Grove went off without a hitch -- until storms intervened.
Elk Grove Village residents lined the race route that afternoon to watch elite professional cyclists zip past them in what organizers and spectators alike described as a world-class cycling event.
Races will be held along village streets starting and finishing at Elk Grove Boulevard and Ridge Avenue (adjacent to Audubon Park).
Ÿ Hours: Races start at 8 a.m. and end at 5:30 p.m.
Ÿ Featuring: 16 professional & amateur races with more than $83,000 in total prize money.
Ÿ Men's Pro 3-Day, Stage 3 (3 p.m.) race features a 71.4-mile circuit race, while Women's Pro 3-Day, Stage 3 (1:30) is a circuit race.
Ÿ Community bike races will begin with the Village Trustees' Fun Ride at 12:40 p.m. and Shimano Kids' Big Wheel Race at 1 p.m.
Ÿ Admission is free.
Everything proceeded splendidly, until a fast-moving, late afternoon deluge sent fans and cyclists scurrying for cover and forced race organizers to postpone the professional men's stage 2 race about 90 minutes and reduce the laps to seven from 10.
The storm delay may actually benefit racers, said Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson, referring to a predicted temperature drop late Saturday and into Sunday.
"With a cold front coming through it will be one heck of a finish," said Johnson who remained optimistic that Saturday's remaining race would run as scheduled and that the second day of the three-day event would conclude as planned with a concert and fireworks.
Ken Hanson, a member of Team OptumHealth, beat out more than 100 cyclists to win Saturday's men's stage. Brad Huff, a member of team Jelly Belly, was second and Alexander Serebryakov, of Team Type 1, was third.
After the first two stages, Francois Parisean, a member of Canada's Team SpiderTech powered by C10, is the overall men's pro race leader going into today's stage 3 event.
On the women's side, Jade Wilcoxson, a member of team Team OptumHealth (U.S.)., won stage 2 Saturday.
After the first two stages of the race, Colorado's Alison Powers, a member of team NOW and Novartis for MS Cycling, is the overall women's race leader.
Before the storm, the competition was fierce and the racing was "fast and hot," said Colleen, Paine, 41, of Dahlonga, Ga., who competed earlier Saturday afternoon in the professional women's circuit stage race which attracted some of the country's best racers.
"The only people missing are the ladies competing at the Olympics," said Paine, a first-time competitor.
She and fellow cyclist Elizabeth Lauer, 27, of Whitewater, Wis., praised race organizers for the smooth-running event and for the size of the cash awards, particularly the overall women's purse which exceeded $21,000, which is a substantial prize in women's cycling.
While Elk Grove doesn't have hills, the course is fast and technically demanding, said Dave Friedman, 28, a category 2 racer from Aurora, who has raced in the Tour in the past but attended this year's event as a spectator.
"It's a great venue; one of the best in the Midwest," he said.
Neither heat nor dehydration posed problems for racers, say Elk Grove Village paramedics.
"There's not one person who doesn't have water or Gatorade in their hands," firefighter/paramedic Jorge Sigler said.
He and fellow firefighter/paramedic George Eilers reported only minor accidents, nothing that would keep these cyclists off their bikes.
"If they're not hurt, they continue racing," Eilers said. "They want to finish."
Tom Zirbel, of Boulder, Colo., has finished first three times previously. However, this year, he found himself edged out of the top spot by two-tenths of a second.
"What's amazing is how the community gets behind this race," said Zirbel, referring to the thousands of spectators who cheer on hundreds of competitors over the course of the three-day event. "We love to see that. We want to see our sport grow and it's races like this that make our sport grow."