Hundreds of professional and amateur bicycle racers will pedal into Nashville June 13-15 for the third annual Edgar Soto Memorial Cycling Classic, presented by TriStar Cycling and Gran Fondo Cycles of Nashville.
The classic is named in honor of Edgar Soto, a cyclist who was killed while riding his bike in the Nashville area in 2003. The event is dedicated to promoting greater awareness about sharing the road and making it safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Mayor Karl Dean has officially declared Saturday, June 14 “Share the Road: Make Nashville a Bicycle-Safe-Zone Day.”
“We have increased the total purse to $19,000, which has attracted several top professional riders and teams in the Southeast,” said James Soto, one of the race organizers and son of the late Edgar Soto.
This year’s classic will feature three criterium events – one at the Music City Motorplex speedway, one in the heart of downtown Nashville, and one at Maryland Farms in Brentwood.
Known among racers as the “NASCAR of bicycle racing,” the criterium race has cyclists riding on a closed course. The criterium is perhaps the most spectator-friendly event in cycling, and race sponsors expect between 300 and 500 professional and amateur racers to participate in the event. The size of each race varies from 20 to 100 racers. Beginner races last from 20 to 30 minutes, while veteran races may last up to 75 minutes.
Professional teams committed to this year’s race include Oakland, Calif.-based Health Net Professional Cycling Team presented by Maxxis; DLP Texas Instruments Professional Cycling Team from Raleigh, N.C.; TIME Pro Cycling from North Carolina; Jittery Joe’s Professional Cycling Team from Athens, Ga.; Krystal SCV from Chattanooga and Marx and Bensdorf from Memphis.
The classic begins with trial and sprint competitions at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively, on Friday at the Music City Motorplex at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. Racing action will continue on Saturday with a professional race through the heart of downtown Nashville beginning at noon and ending at the finish line at 8:45 p.m. Saturday’s race will mirror cycling events in major cities such as Chicago, Charlotte, St. Louis and Birmingham. The race moves to Brentwood’s Maryland Farms area on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and concludes with trophy presentations.
The classic also offers an opportunity for children ages 10 and younger to participate in the “Kiddie” criterium on Saturday. Registration for this event is free. Ages 11 and older are eligible to race in the “Junior” category. The Kiddie Criterium begins at 3:40 p.m. and includes three wave starts (5 years old and younger; 6 and 7 years old; 8 to 10 years old). Children are welcome to use their training wheels. This race focuses on fun, not on winning. Parents are welcome to follow their small child on the course during the race to ensure safety. Bike helmets are mandatory. All participants in the Kiddie criterium will receive a goodie bag. In addition, USA Cycling will award every child a medal. There are no race entry fees for any junior category registration.