Tour of Lake Ellyn will welcome cyclists from village's sister city
A young team of French cyclists who are making their U.S. debut in a regional racing series will draw fanfare at their "home" course in Glen Ellyn on Saturday.
Organizers of the Tour of Lake Ellyn will roll out the welcome mat for the five riders from Le Bouscat, France, the village's sister city. The team's participation in the Intelligentsia Cup series demonstrates the global nature of the sport and Glen Ellyn's growing partnership with Le Bouscat, organizers say.
Ben Raby and Jim Burket, who have worked to save the must-see event for its second year, extended an invitation to the cyclists through a "collaborative effort" with village officials.
"We're excited that they took us up on our offer," Raby said Monday.
The cyclists from the Le Bouscat club team who are making the trip -- their first to the United States -- are Yann Gonzalez, Sasha Jarnoux, Florian Latour, Simon Martin and Matteo Seneca.
The group of mostly 20-somethings has latched onto an opportunity to grow and expand their careers in one of the largest cycling series of its kind in the country.
The Tour of Lake Ellyn is the second stage in the Intelligentsia Cup, an annual series that is expanding to 10 days of racing this year. Two of the tour's early supporters, Julie and Stephen Nyquist, will host the French team in their Glen Ellyn home for the duration of the series, Raby said.
"For us and the team of the Tour of Lake Ellyn, it just adds that element of inclusion," Raby said.
And that inclusive spirit aligns with the mission of the village's relationship with its sister city. Le Bouscat officials approached their peers in Glen Ellyn about four years ago just after former Village President Alex Demos took office.
They sought to establish a partnership with an American city of similar size and values and made a connection with Glen Ellyn. Both are suburban towns.
"It's not just a proclamation," Demos said. "It's a relationship, and it's been wonderful."
That relationship helps build cultural exchange. During his tenure, Demos welcomed Le Bouscat's mayor to his Glen Ellyn home and introduced him to village government. Le Bouscat's mayor in turn hosted Demos during a personal family vacation to the city north of Bordeaux, France.
Demos and his wife continue to work on solidifying the ties between the two sister cities. He hopes to formalize discussions about creating a student exchange program that would allow Glen Ellyn high schoolers to go abroad to Le Bouscat.
Demos said he's honored to see the five cyclists visit Glen Ellyn, where they will get a chance to interact with spectators at a scenic course around a neighborhood lake.
That course also could test the French cyclists who are accustomed to a different style of racing in Europe. Events there tend to be longer in both time and distance, said Raby, a former pro.
"They don't generally have these criterium-style races often," he said.
Other venues in the series feature flat, criterium races. But the Tour of Lake Ellyn offers a unique challenge with nearly a dozen turns, a roundabout and several kinds of pavement.
Parents and kids also can bike around the course for two laps during the Greentarget Family Fun Ride starting at 3:45 p.m., while the professional men warm up for their race and the professional women cool down after theirs.
The tour debuted in the Intelligentsia Cup series last year, but its future was in doubt when the local sponsor, INTENT Inc., a Woodridge training center, declined to back races this year.
Burket and Raby stepped up to serve as promoters and hope to make the tour a village tradition.
If you goWhat: Jerry Haggerty Chevrolet Tour of Lake Ellyn
When: The first race starts at 10:05 a.m. and the last at 7:45 p.m. Saturday
Where: Lake Ellyn Park, 645 Lenox Road, Glen Ellyn; The start/finish line is at Lenox Road and Linden Street
Admission: Free for spectators