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posted: 7/24/2013 5:13 PM

Criterium bike races returning to Winfield

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  • This weekend's Winfield Criterium is expected to draw more than 400 cyclists to the village.

    This weekend's Winfield Criterium is expected to draw more than 400 cyclists to the village.
    Daily Herald file photo


Speeding cyclists will dominate Winfield's residential streets this weekend when the village plays host to its annual criterium-style bicycle races.

This year, however, the Winfield Criterium will have some new events to help entertain the crowds expected to watch the hundreds of riders competing in a series of professional and amateur races on Saturday and Sunday.

"It's going to be a great time," said Mary Lee Geraghty, vice president of the Athletes By Design Cycle Club. The club partners with the Advocates of the Winfield Riverwalk to organize the criterium.

A criterium is a type of race in which riders do multiple laps on a short course. Winfield's first criterium was held 13 years ago to help attract visitors to the downtown area.

So many people attended through the years that the criterium grew to the point where it's become a tradition for the community.

"It is Winfield's biggest event," Geraghty said. "To have a pro cycling event here in Winfield has attracted a lot of people over the years."

Between 400 to 600 cyclists from throughout the Midwest will compete for more than $9,000 in cash prizes. Geraghty said the two-day competition draws about 1,000 spectators.

Races are broken down by age groups and five ability categories.

Because of road construction, all of this year's races will be staged at Oakwood Park on Winfield's north side.

Saturday's races will be on a .9-mile course. On Sunday, the course will expand to about 1.25 miles, organizers said.

Unlike similar events, Winfield's criterium has a course that runs through a residential neighborhood. Geraghty said many residents living along the route embrace that by hosting parties on race days.

"The neighbors have really grown to love it," Geraghty said.

For racers and spectators, beverages and food will be for sale. Entertainment will include a professional juggler and a magician.

One of the new events this year is the BMX show planned for both days. Also, a kids parade and mayor's race are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

In the mayor's race, the top elected leaders of Winfield, West Chicago and Wheaton will pedal down less than a block on "silly" bikes that are "very difficult" to maneuver, Geraghty said.

"They'll probably just make fools out of themselves," Geraghty said. "It should be a very interesting photo."

Proceeds raised from the criterium will be donated to the Advocates of the Winfield Riverwalk. The nonprofit group trying to raise money to help pay for the village's proposed riverwalk construction project.

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