Cycling fans flock to Elk Grove competition
Last day of racing today in Elk Grove
As the pack of cyclists flashed past him, Jimbo Ritchie relived the thrill of competition, the high of crossing the finish line as well as the risky aspects of bike racing.
"I feel their pain," said Ritchie of Indian Head Park, who rode competitively when he was younger. "I have broken bones ... my collarbone, ribs, right arm."
His memories proved prescient Saturday at the popular Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove cycling event. Two cyclists in the Comcast Women's Pro Stage 2 Criterium were taken to Alexian Brothers Medical Center with minor injuries after a collision that took down another rider who was able resume racing, fire officials said.
Elk Grove Village resident Greg Gersky lives near the challenging course and he recounted a number of spinouts at the intersection of Elk Grove Boulevard and Rev. Morrison Boulevard, where the accident happened.
"Crash and burn turn," Gersky called the intersection that features a 180 degree turn. During the annual event, "there's usually a couple of crashes a day," he said.
A large crowd spread along the route to cheer on cyclists competing in numerous races Saturday during the tour, which attracts teams from across the United States, plus Canada, South Africa and Italy.
Elia Viviani, a member of Italy's Cannondale Pro Cycling team, beat out more than 80 cyclists to win Saturday's Stage 2 road race. In the women's pro Stage 2 criterium race, the winner was Canadian Joelle Numainville, a member of U.S.'s Team OptumHealth.
Watching them were Bob and Peggy Benson of Schaumburg. The two amateur photographers stretched on the grass to get the best shots as the pack of racers shot past.
"Here they come!" said Peggy Benson, and husband and wife snapped away.
"This is a good place to practice (photography), and it doesn't cost you anything to get in," Bob Benson said. "We're just trying different angles ... we're trying this for the straight shot."
Brian Boyd and Elizabeth Bacon of Darien were among a number of spectators who brought pets but their Great Pyrenees, Apollo, towered over most other dogs.
Boyd also was a former competitive cyclist.
"It's hard; it takes a lot of training ... anyone who does this is incredibly dedicated. It's very much a thinking athlete's sport. You don't want to go too hard at the wrong time, or you'll get tired. There's a lot of strategy involved," he explained.
Close to the finish line University of Georgia and Western Springs native Kira Maicke cheered on two friends in the women's criterium.
Maicke, who competed earlier Saturday, likes the Elk Grove tour because "it's a tough race — it's a really technical course."
Being a psychology major doesn't make her faster, but it may help her to "just being able to push through when your body tells you can't," she said.
After the first two stages, American John Murphy, a member of team United Healthcare, is the overall men's pro race leader going into Sunday. The final men's leg takes place at 3 p.m.
On the women's side, Colorado's Alison Powers. a member of team NOW and Novartis for MS Cycling is the overall women's race leader. The final women's leg is at 1 p.m. today.
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