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Cycling | Tufts to host grueling day−long bike race series Sunday

Fifteen Jumbos to compete on fast, steep course winding across campus

Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 07:03

Cycling

Courtesy Taylor Schwartz

Fifteen members of Tufts’ cycling team will compete in the Tufts Campus Criterium Sunday, when the center of campus will be filled with over 100 racers for the day-long event.

On Sunday, the center of campus will be transformed into a high−speed race track filled with rotating spokes.

Tufts' cycling team will host the Tufts Campus Criterium from 8 a.m to 6 p.m as part of the Boston Beanpot 2.0, a series of races that starts on Saturday with a circuit race and team time trial hosted by BU and MIT before ending with the criterium at Tufts, the shortest course of the weekend. A large chunk of Professors Row, Talbot Avenue and Curtis Avenue, as well as the entirety of Whitfield Road, will be roped off, and parking will be prohibited in these areas.

Students will get a rare chance to see over a hundred cyclists spanning many skill divisions up close and personal.

"It'll be great to showcase a sport that not a lot of people really know about," sophomore Taylor Schwartz, the race director, said. "I'm excited to have a day when, wherever you are on campus, you'll see us racing."

Fifteen Jumbos are geared up to compete in the races, Schwartz said, spanning the men's A, B, C and D skill divisions — junior Evan Cooper is the lone Tufts racer competing in the premier A division — and some women's divisions as well. Tufts Campus Criterium, a race notorious for its tight corners and steep changes in slope, will start just off the corner of Curtis Avenue and Professors Row, roughly in front of Health Service. From there, racers will make a left turn onto Curtis before the course curls through Whitfield, up Packard Avenue and then, in a sharp turn, onto Talbot Avenue. Riders will turn onto Professors Row, and repeat the 0.6−mile track until the clock runs out and the victor emerges.

Sunday will mark the first time Tufts has hosted a criterium since 2008, according to Cooper, who is also a senior staff writer for the Daily.

Spectators can expect an exciting sprint all the way through, but unlike in criteriums on flatter surfaces when the pack of riders often sticks together from start to finish, this race should spread out quickly due to the many variables involved, including six sharp turns and — as any Tufts student can attest to — the rapidly changing slope.

"This criterium is extremely technical and extremely difficult," Cooper said. "It favors bigger, stronger riders who like to sprint. I expect the really strong guys who are used to this type of race to ramp things up quickly and separate from the pack."

The first race of the day, a 25−minute men's D division contest with an unspecified number of laps (the races are set to finish in a specific time) is set to start at 8 a.m. The 50−minute men's B division race, which will include Schwartz, among others, will take place sometime in the early afternoon and will be followed by the women's A and B division race, which will also last 50 minutes, and then the 70−minute men's A race, which will pit Cooper against around 50 other top collegiate riders in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference, all vying for points that can help them qualify for nationals.

Schwartz is excited for a challenging and potentially dangerous race. The frequent twists and turns will undoubtedly yield a deserving victor but might leave some bruised bodies in its wake, especially on the corner of Curtis and Whitfield, where riders will make a quick turn with a lot of downhill momentum.

"Crashes are just part of the sport, and I've seen my share, but it's far more likely for a crash to occur on this kind of course," he said.

Schwartz and Cooper said that the team has been working with Tufts University Police Department (TUPD), the City of Somerville and Tufts' Department of Facilities Services for months to make Sunday's race a reality. The team will spend today and tomorrow peppering flyers on cars parked on what will become the racetrack, advising them to clear the course, Schwartz said.

TUPD officers will help seal off the track, Schwartz said. A number of student volunteers are expected to keep the races up and running, including some from Tufts Bikes, which plans to unveil its new bike−sharing program on Friday afternoon, making this weekend a historic one for biking at Tufts as a whole.

"They decided to make their event this Friday after they heard about the race," Schwartz said. "A few of them will be volunteering at the race, and we plan to do some more collaboration down the road."

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