A group of cycling enthusiasts from Glen Ellyn has stepped up to keep a professional race in the village after organizers initially expected to pull the plug on the event.
The committee of residents plans to apply for a village permit next week to stage the Tour of Lake Ellyn on July 15. The group has signed an agreement with the Intelligentsia Cup series to promote the race on a scenic -- and challenging -- course that loops around the lake northeast of downtown.
Members also are largely self-funding the event and seeking sponsors to offset some of the costs, village officials say.
Trustees signed off on the inaugural race, then called the Tour of Glen Ellyn, last year. Only village staffers likely will review the permit request because residents are not proposing any major changes to a well-received event that drew about 400 riders in 2016.
"It went very well we thought from our vantage point," said Assistant Village Manager Al Stonitsch, who credited organizers, police and other officials who worked to accommodate neighbors around the course and give them advance notice of the event.
The future of the tour was cast in doubt when last year's local sponsor, INTENT Inc., a Woodridge training center, opted against backing a 2017 race in Glen Ellyn. Intelligentsia Cup organizers last month were skeptical that the race could be saved in the eleventh hour.
The 1.4-mile, 14-turn course resurrected one designed by John Vande Velde, a two-time Olympian, about 50 years ago. The second annual tour would serve as one leg in the Intelligentsia Cup series that should expand to 10 days of racing around the suburbs and Chicago.
Members of the Glen Ellyn committee that have banded together to save the spectator-friendly race include Ben Raby, a former professional cyclist, and Jim Burket. The event also would include a "community fun ride" in between the pro women and men races.
"We're very excited to bring the bike race back to Glen Ellyn, which is being led by a community effort," Raby said in a statement released by Intelligentsia Cup. "The Tour of Lake Ellyn will promote the Glen Ellyn community and enjoyment of our great park. In collaboration with the park district and village staff, we've been able to secure a unique and challenging course, giving spectators the opportunity to watch elite racers navigate the ups, downs and turns of the Lake Ellyn circuit."