The 2010 edition of the American professional criterium bicycle race is set to make history in Glencoe, Illinois on Saturday, August 14th.
Riding the wave of a steady, yet truly impressive growth for the sport of cycling over the past 30 years in the USA, the 2010 AT&T USA Cycling Professional Criterium National Championship is poised to deliver amazing and thrilling memories for many thousands of fans, hundreds of amateur racers, and a select few dozen of the finest pro “crit” specialists in the world.
With the Tour de France winding up Sunday, and many in the world with their attention focused on the biggest bike race for the past three weeks, it’s a perfect time for us to start thinking about what promises to be a very special race day August 14th.
What is a criterium race? It is a thrilling mix of the Tour de France and velodrome racing. Instead of racing each day for three weeks through French towns and cities, or diving down the steep banked corners of the track, the criterium takes riders around lap after lap on a short (usually around a mile) course. Perfectly suited for spectators, you are treated to seeing the race ride past you many times, instead of spending all day on an Alpine mountain, only to see the riders one time. While it is an individual who wins the bike race, it is a team sport in the sense that others may aid on the road by leading the race in efforts to help their team leader. Think NASCAR on two wheels, as 100 riders cut through sharp angle turns at over 30 mph riding inches apart from one another.
The 2010 AT&T USA Cycling Professional Criterium National Championship continues a special tradition in Glencoe that was carried so well from 1991 until 2009 in the nearby Chicago suburb of Downers Grove. For 19 years, US professional cyclists competed along side international fields in the pursuit of a championship. Downers Grove became a Mecca for the specialists in the uniquely American style bike race. It is important to recognize what a great event this was year in and year out.
In tomorrow’s part 2, more of a historical perspective on the evolution of the Glencoe Grand Prix.
Labbe is an 8 time US Pro Criterium participant 1996-2003 who won as a junior in Downers Grove in 1989 when it was only an Illinois State Championship, raced amateur in 1991, 1992, and 1995 as I dreamed of competing in the pro race later in the day. Finally realized the dream, taking out a free agent pro license in 1996, and placing 21st. Dreamed about the race virtually every day and night for the next six years, with a 20th place finish in 1998, and finally by riding for the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team for four years from 2000 until 2003. My son Torchy Labbé raced his first race ever before his 3rd birthday in the big wheels at Downers Grove in 2008. 2010 will be my fourth year announcing at the Glencoe Grand Prix.