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Date World - class bike event set for area                      previous page
Expanded race will start in Torrington, with events in Salisbury, Waterbury
Friday, April 16, 2004
By Joyce Peck 2004 Republican-American

Five sites will play host to an expanded 2004 Tour of Connecticut between May 16 and 23.

The tour, which will attract some of the best cyclists in the sport, will kick off in Torrington. The first event, dubbed the Road Race in Litchfield Hills 220K, is May 16.

This tour is considered by some to be a step or two below the revered Tour de France.

The second event will be a circuit race on the 50K Lime Rock Park race track in Salisbury on May 20, followed by a 50K criterium in New Haven, "Race around the Green," on May 21.

The competition will continue in Waterbury on May 22 with an 80K race, the Waterbury's Climbers' Cup. The finale will be on May 23; the Housatonic Valley Classic 160K will begin with an 80-mile trek around Candlewood Lake and conclude in Danbury.

The events were announced in Torrington and other locations Thursday.

Jim Whitney, of the Northwest Connecticut Convention and Visitors Bureau in Waterbury, Mayor Owen Quinn and JoAnn Ryan, head of the Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, were among those on hand at the Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington.

"We're thrilled to death it came together this year," said Whitney. "This will make this region known as a cycling destination," he said.

"Lime Rock looks forward to expanding into cycling events. We're planning more events," said Roy Hasty, a Lime Rock spokesman. The race is not intended for 12-speed peddlers, but for professional and amateur competitors, said John Eustice, of New York-based Sparta Cycling Inc., organizer of the event. "These are flat out competitions, highly coveted by world class racers," he said.

The event started in 2001 with a one-day race. It was expanded to three last year, and now to five, Eustice said.

Danbury, where the competition originated, will always host the finale, he said.

"But we're in love with this area and want Torrington to be the permanent kickoff point," he said.

"The next step up is the Tour de France," said Sal Lilienthal, of the Bicycle Tour Co. in Kent. "It's a high-caliber race based on the level of difficulty of the course and the length of the course," he said.

"Personally I'm very excited. I grew up in Connecticut. I knew this is a perfect place for biking — natural beauty, rolling hills, Lake Waramaug, quiet roads and small towns," he said.

Eustice said there will be volunteer opportunities.

"It's a community race. We really need people," he said.     

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