Tucson’s Professional Bicycle “Criterium” Race Kicks Off the USA Cycling National Criterium Calendar

February 27, 2013

On Saturday March 9, 2013,  02 Modern Fitness and Fitworks Cycling Support bring to CritTucson the OPTUM™/Tucson Medical Center (TMC) Old Pueblo Grand Prix, the only national-class pro bike race in Arizona. The OPTUM ™/TMC Old Pueblo Grand Prix returns to Tucson with new sponsors and national status.

Heading into its third year, this classic downtown criterium is the quintessential American-style bike race, concentrated around a few city blocks with lots of turns, very high speeds and continuous action and excitement. To quote USA Cycling, “The National Criterium Calendar recognizes the best crit racers on American soil by employing a season-long rankings system that identifies overall men’s and women’s series leaders and is recognized by the United States Olympic Committee and the Union Cycliste Internationale”.

Being the kick-off event to the National Criterium Calendar (NCC), as well as once again being included in the USA Criterium Championships, has prompted professional men‘s and women’s teams to commit full squads to attend this year. Both series have separate point systems by which athletes can earn national level standing with the hopes of a national championship.

Erica Allar, a local Tucson resident, will be racing on her home turf to defend her 2012 Championship standing in both series heading in to the 2013 season.

With the biggest prize/purse yet of $23,000, the OPTUM™/TMC Old Pueblo Grand Prix will no doubt be packed with exciting action as the pros pass by every minute at speeds reaching 35 mph.

Crit spectatorsIn addition to the excitement of nighttime professional bike racing, the community has chipped in to bring other cycling related activities for the spectators to enjoy. Young BMX Pros from Premises Park, a non-profit BMX indoor park for kids, will be showing off X-Game-like stunts right in the expo area. The evening kicks off at 5:00 pm with a community bike parade where everyone who owns (or borrows) a bike can pedal around the auto-free race course with the final lap leading to the crowd-pleasing kids race – 300 yards on trikes, bikes and training wheels.

The Odell Cruiser Drag Races are the featured half-time show at 7:00 pm. Open to everyone 21 and over, all participants will get a free Odell Beer and could win prizes for being the fastest to sprint 300 yards on supplied Beach Cruisers from Roadrunner Bicycles. Eight bikes, eight heats, eight finalists – one champion. Bikes and helmets will be supplied.

The women’s pro/elite race begins at 6:00 pm. Following the Odell Cruiser Drag Races, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild will fire the starting pistol at 8:00 pm to send off the top pro men. The 75 minute race will culminate along light-flooded start/finsih line in front of the beautiful backdrop of the St. Augustin Cathedral at Stone and Jackson.Crit Kid

This professional race is free to spectators. Additional festivities around the course will include a Bicycle/Sponsor Expo, a beer Garden sponsored by the Downtown Tucson Partnership, a raffle for a road bike and holiday stay in Rocky Point.

Food will be available from the Tucson Food Truck Coalition. 2nd Saturdays will be in full swing, offering a great way to spend the whole evening Downtown.

Cox Communications has offered in-kind sponsorship through the use of its 2-story-high HD video screen located in center of the expo area. Visible from both the public beer garden and VIP Tent, spectators will be able to watch the livestreaming action from five cameras placed around the course.

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry have officially endorsed the OPTUM™/TMC Old Pueblo Grand Prix, for highlighting the importance of cycling and endurance sports in Tucson as a key industry for our economy, and for promoting good health and wellness in the local community.

For more information and to purchase raffle tickets or VIP seating, visit the Old Pueblo Grand Prix website.