Smith's Cycling: The La Crosse Omnium
The La Crosse Omnium.... an epic three-stage battle for bike racing supremacy in the Midwest is coming to La Crosse on May 5th and 6th
LA CROSSE, WI, May 1, 2012/PR Newswire/ - Smith's Cycling Presents the La Crosse Omnium on May 5th and 6th in La Crosse Wisconsin. The La Crosse Omnium is a diverse "three-event" cycling race that includes a road race, an uphill time trial and a Criterium. Points are scored separately in each event and then accumulate toward the La Crosse Omnium Championship.
Stage one racing action begins on Saturday May 5th at 8am across the Mississippi River near Nodine Minnesota at the Ridgeway Community School. There will be 4 groups in the morning and four groups in the afternoon. The groups start at two-minute intervals and one lap is 14 miles. The juniors do one lap beginning at 8:30am and the men pros do 5 laps or 70 miles starting at 12:30pm.
Stage two launches Saturday evening from the foot of the world famous Grandads Bluff. The first rider goes off at 5:30 pm followed by hundreds of others in 30-second intervals. This closed course, "race of truth" against the clock, goes virtually straight up Grandads, climbing 686 feet in 2.37 miles.
There are awards for beginners, citizens, pros, USA cycling category riders, and best costume. The course record was done in a blistering 8:20 and is held by former Master National Champion Time Trialist Ian Stanford.
Stage three is a classic Criterium race--flat, fast, and furious with the ever changing and challenging winds coming right off the Mississippi River and buffeting the urbanscape of downtown La Crosse. Racing action starts at 9am with the juniors and concludes in dramatic fashion with the final Men's pro 1/ 2-field starting at 4:45.
The Criterium is the final La Crosse Omnium event and concludes a weekend of intense bicycle racing at Riverside Park as packs of up to 75 riders, riding shoulder to shoulder, average speeds of 22 to 28 miles per hour on a flat and fast .7 mile loop around the Radisson Hotel.
Race director TJ Brooks said, "The La Crosse Omnium has attracted former professional riders including a Tour de France veteran. It has also served as a training ground for young racers before they head off to Europe, like Cole House." Local favorite Jens Brabbit is an elite amateur racer we are hoping does well for hometown fans."
The Criterium Men's Pro field has $800.00 in prize money. "It is an exciting sport to watch! NASCAR on bikes," said La Crosse Omnium Marketing Director Ralph Heath.
The Criterium course starts in front of the Radisson Hotel and travels south on Front Street to Jay Street, then east on Jay Street to Second Street, north on Second Street to a left hand turn onto State Street, and a final left turn back onto Front Street and back to the start in front of the Radisson.
What to watch for at Smith's La Crosse Omnium cycling Criterium
After competing for a set period of time ranging from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the race category, the bell lap then signifies the final lap that determines the winner and finishing place of the riders.
Criterium cycling races are popular because of the strategy that occurs among the teams of riders competing to get their fastest "sprinter" to the front for the final bell lap. Because of the draft created by the pack, the rider in the lead expends 30% more energy then the riders behind him, so ideally the team delivers their sprinter to the front of the pack, so the sprinter expends just the right amount of energy to win the race. If he or she is delivered to the front to early they will needlessly expend too much energy staying in the lead and get swallowed up in the pack of riders. The timing of the delivery of the sprinter to the front, by the sprinters teammates is critical to the sprinters ability to win. Multiple teams are all attempting to deliver their rider to the front on a tight course at the same time.
All of this occurs at speeds averaging 25 mph throughout the race and up to 30 to 35 miles per hour on the final bell lap in a pack of 75 riders riding elbow to elbow. Spectators can get an outstanding view of the action anywhere on the .7-mile loop surrounding the Radisson, but the finish is on Front Street near the hotel's entrance.
What to watch for at Smith's Cycling La Crosse Omnium Grandads Uphill Time Trial
Riders go off individually every 30 seconds starting at 5:30pm and drafting is not legal in a time trial. Riders will need to be thoroughly warmed-up as the first quarter mile of Bliss road is a leg ripping 12% grade in parts, before leveling off to a more manageable 4% to 6% grade for the remainder of the climb. Most time trials are on a flat course so riding a traditionally heavier aero time trial bikes versus a lighter road bike, may be more of a hindrance then a help for this unusual test of up hill endurance. Spectators, but not vehicles, are welcome on the course and some of the best action will occur during that first leg ripping uphill on Bliss Road, or the climb at the Alpine Inn near the top. The finish line is at the very end of Bliss Road, overlooking the city, high atop Grandad Bluff.
What to watch for at the Smith's Cycling La Crosse Omnium Road Race
You'll see large packs of riders in various age and ability categories riding a 14-mile loop. The packs will travel around 20-22 mph and a group will finish a lap (pass the same point) about every 40 minutes. There will be 4 groups in the morning starting at 8:30am and four groups in the afternoon starting at 12:30 and going off ever two minutes. The juniors are doing one lap and the men pros are doing 5 laps. One place to watch - because that is where the action will be - is the climb on Highway 8.
The waves roll out of Ridgeway School parking lot with the juniors at 8:30 am and the pros at 12:30pm. The groups and the laps are here at the bottom of this link.
Charitable causes: Not only will you have the time of your life watching the races, but it is all for a good cause. The last three years the La Crosse Fitness Festival has donated over $150,000 to three extremely worthwhile charities including the St. Clare Health Mission, La Crosse Youth Enrichment Association, and Special Recreation of La Crosse.