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Cyclocross ‘Gran Prix’ will bring national attention to Portland

Posted by on November 28th, 2007 at 4:56 pm

It’s coming…

This weekend, cyclocross racing will put Portland in the national cycling spotlight when the finale of U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross comes to town.

Along with the nation’s best amateur and professional ‘cross racers, the two full days of racing at Portland International Raceway (PIR) just minutes from downtown Portland is sure to attract national media and industry attention.

Chris Distefano, marketing director for local bike parts manufacturer Chris King Components and former PR guy for Shimano America, says Portland’s reputation will draw a large contingent of bike industry insiders, companies, and racers,

“People will come to this because it’s Portland. You may not do the GP [Gran Prix] in other cities, but you’ll come here for ‘cross because Portland’s like Pebble Beach or Augusta [for golf]…we’re known for our ‘cross scene.”

He also says Portland’s infamously wet and cold winter weather is a draw for those seeking the “true cyclocross experience”.

2005 Cyclocross National Championships, Portland OR

The action from the 2004
‘Cross Championships held at PIR.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)

Race director Brad Ross, who’s also in charge of the Cross Crusade says the event will be, “like the Cross Crusade times ten.” Ross adds that there will be “a gargantuan expo area” with companies like Shimano, SRAM, Cannondale, Mavic, Selle Italia, and a host of others planning to attend.

It all starts on Friday afternoon with a kids clinic out at the race venue (from 3-4:00) taught by World Championship silver medalist Danny Summerhill and Team Clif Bar’s Ben Turner.

Then, beginning at 6:00 on Friday the public is invited to a “Meet the pros” open house/media event/kickoff party at River City Bicycles (706 SE MLK Blvd.). Hosted by the USGP folks, this will be a great chance to meet top pros like recent World Cup race winner Katie Compton (she won the National Championships at PIR back in 2004) and perennial favorites Tim Johnson, Todd Well, Ryan Trebon, and others.

Also on Friday is opening night of Washed in the Mud, a photo exhibition being hosted by Sacha White and his crew at The Vanilla Workshop (717 SE 35th Ave.).

The ‘cross love continues into the weekend with two full days of racing on Saturday and Sunday (action starts at 8:30 with elite races later in the day) followed by the Cross Crusade’s annual season-ending awards party from 6:30 to 11:00 at Audio Cinema (226 SE Madison — break out your cheesy suit and prom dress!).

Following another wildly successful Cross Crusade series and the Single Speed World Championships earlier this month, this weekend’s ‘cross events leave little doubt that Portland has become the epicenter of American cyclocross.

For more details check out the official USGP event website and stay tuned for more coverage.

  • question-er November 28, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    i have a question:

    how does the two day structure work? is Saturday prelims or something? i\’m just wondering becuase the two days look identical and i will only be able to come saturday… Thanks!

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) November 28, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    I had the same confusion… it\’s actually two days of a full slate of racing. All categories and pros race both days.

    the courses will be different. Brad Ross told me that one day will be more of a course for \”roadies\” and the other day will be more of a technical course.

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  • Tom November 28, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    I want the more tech course. Any idea which is which?

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  • paolo November 28, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    From what I read the Sunday one will be more technical, they are going to set up the courses tomorrow, it also depends from the weather, rain=mud and even a flat streight course can become quite technical, if you know PIR you know it is a swamp so…..bring your rain boots.

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  • Mark November 29, 2007 at 9:18 am

    One is a \’higher category\’ day — designated C1, the other is C2. More world organization (UCI) points and more prize money is on offer for the C1, which according to cyclingnews\’s schedule is the Saturday race. On the other hand, they have the venue listed wrong (\”Hillsborough\”), so who knows.

    How that translates into difference between the courses or a difference to spectators I don\’t really know or understand. At PIR after a rainy week it will be pretty \’technical\’ regardless.

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  • Brian November 29, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    Botheration! I hope the technical course is Saturday. Only day I can do.

    having a life and responsibilities outside of cyclocross kinda sucks!


    I kid, I kid!

    Still– This is totally awesome for Portland. I love this town! It\’s amazing that Portland gets TWO USGP races. Do we rock here or what?

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  • Mike November 29, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    The USGP series is a set of 6 races – 2 races per weekend at 3 different locations over the fall. Portland has the 5th and 6th races this year which, obviously, includes the finals. If I\’m not mistaken, finals are typically double points.
    For the Elite fields, the series standings are close enough in all divisions that both days will likely be hotly contested among the series leaders.
    Since there are 2 races, course designers will try to mix it up a bit in order to challenge the racers. Riding fast on pavement takes a different set of skills and strengths than slogging through the mud.
    You can\’t go wrong by going one day over another.
    If you\’re a spectator new to the sport – follow the crowds and head for the technical areas. These will likely be short little slippery hills, areas that make the racers get off their bikes & run, or any mud pit. Straight stretches can be fun if you like someone whizzing by doing 25 but watching a pro grind it out up a hill or through the mud is where the action\’s at.

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  • Todd B December 1, 2007 at 9:38 am

    And in the NY Times there was an article on cyclecross (30 Nov. Friday). Portland was mentioned.

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