Cycling Tourney hits downtown Evanston

Luevano, Amanda

Going into Sunday’s race, Alex Voitik was the Category-3 leader for the International Cycling Classic’s Super Week Pro Tour. Everything looked great as he headed for the final stretch. As cyclists reached high speeds and packed closer together, things got physical. With 20 meters to go, Voitik went down, placing him 55th among all riders.

“It was a little sketchy in terms of how physical it got,” he said. “This was our hometown race, so I wanted to do well.”

Voitik’s sponsor, Turin Bicycle, 1027 Davis St., hosted the second annual Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Grand Prix of Cycling. As part of Super Week, the Grand Prix held a full day of men’s and women’s races in levels ranging from amateur to pro.

Races and activities attracted cyclists and spectators alike. Michael Garrison, marketing director of Super Week, called the atmosphere downtown “incredible,” and said the event would put Evanston on the map.

“This race brings out world champions, Olympians and the hottest teams in cycling,” Garrison said. “Riders love the course, and I think it will become one of our top races real fast.”

The event, which brought out 15,000 to 20,000 spectators last year, grew both in size and stature, according to several organizers. Chris Mailing, director of operations for the Grand Prix, attributed the growth to the support of residents, city officials and business owners.

“This is a great community event,” Mailing said. “We’re able to show off downtown Evanston while getting everyone involved in a healthy activity.”

Several businesses, including Turin Bicycles, Whole Foods Market and The North Face, sponsored the event, setting up tents with food and giveaways throughout Fountain Square.

The site was also home to a live band and dance party during the afternoon intermission, which included a break for four kids races, a new addition to the Grand Prix.

In addition to showing off the city of Evanston, organizers were proud of the positive message that the race sent to the community. Eddy van Guyse, the announcer of Super Week, said that the Grand Prix promotes healthy activity and riding bicycles as an alternative to driving.

“At a time when gas is ridiculous and people are struggling, we’re encouraging them to get out of their cars and ride bikes,” he said.

Van Guyse talked about the popularity of the “green” movement, and said that Evanston embracing the cycling world comes at the perfect time.

“It’s time for Americans to get out, save money, lose weight and get healthy,” he said. “I think it’s awesome that this event can show them how to do that with cycling.”

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