TRAVERSE CITY — The Cherry-Roubaix, now in its sixth year, continues to build momentum.
Race director Bob McLain said around 600 cyclists participated last year, and they already have that many signed up for this weekend’s event. Pre-registration ended Thursday at midnight, but racers can still be added for the criterium and road race.
One big difference this time around are the dates. Last year’s races were in mid-August.
“It’ll be interesting with so many things happening — graduations, Father’s Day and so on,” McLain said. “But I think we’re still going to have some good crowds and definitely good racing.”
Last year’s men’s road race was won by Sven Baumann, while Mackenzie Woodring claimed the women’s title. Woodring also won the women’s criterium, while Ben Renkema was the men’s pro winner.
The three-day event starts with today’s time trials on a 13.3-mile route up Old Mission Peninsula.
“The time trial, we’ve extended it out to about 13 miles,” McLain said. “Same area, we just made it longer.”
Last year’s time trial was nine miles.
Saturday’s criterium — a looping race through Traverse City’s Central Neighborhood that starts and ends at the corner of Union and Eighth streets — is the state championship for women, junior and masters categories for this year and next. The course is the same as last year, but runs in the opposite direction. A beer and wine tent has also been added this year for the criterium, which starts at 9 a.m. with juniors classes and sees its final race starting at 6:45 p.m. with the pro women.
Sunday’s road race has the exact same course as last year. Eleven different categories begin from 9 a.m to 9:38 a.m., each taking between one and four laps around the 23.3-mile course that starts and ends at Sugar Loaf in Cedar.
“Every year, the Cherry-Roubaix just keeps building more and more,” McLain said. “We have more racers, more volunteers, more events. It’s growing and going in the right direction. It’s built a name for itself in the Midwest. It’s definitely the premier race in Michigan. There’s races almost every weekend. And the Cherry-Roubaix — not to pat ourselves on the back — is kind of the king of the circuit and word gets into Ohio and Indiana and some Wisconsin people are coming in. Out-of-state people are starting to hear this is the place to come.”
Another new addition is a points system for racers who participate all three days. The leader after each day gets a red jersey to wear the following race.
“We have over 200 volunteers,” McLain said. “The volunteer base is incredible, how this area continues to bring in volunteers to the table for every event — the film festival, the Cherry Festival, mountain bike racing, road racing, whatever. It’s really unique that we have these people that want to come out and help and help build the community.”