Local race support on ropes
The village council of Downers Grove voted Tuesday to eliminate the $37,000 it spends on the USPRO National Championship weekend, the crown jewel of local racing.Although the budget's wording suggests the race will be canceled, I'm told that organizer Special Events Management is seeking sponsorship to plug the gap, and the race may go on. (The Downers Grove budget also calls it a "criterion," but that is neither here nor there.) USA Cycling was unaware of the development. Director of communications Andrea Smith says at this point the race remains on the national championship calendar. SEM estimated that more than 15,000 spectators attended the races in 2009. Although downtown restaurants benefit, locals tell me that some retailers see a drop in business and resent the crowds, and several close up shop for the weekend. At a July planning workshop, the village council rated the race as "low priority." Village manager David Fieldman did not return a request for comment. In addition to national championships for men, women and elites, Downers Grove traditionally hosts a full slate of amateur races over two days, including a Saturday twilight pro-am. In 2010, however, the women and elite men will have their criterium national championships in Bend, Ore. SEM manages the Chicago Criterium as well, and that race's future also will hinge on angel sponsorship without city funding. Meanwhile, the Daily Herald reports that Arlington Heights is considering not funding its Superweek race, a midweek criterium that made its debut in 2009. Read the comments for a sampling of residents' attitudes toward bike racing.