GENEVA – Tour de France fans Heidi and Michael Mitchell of Geneva have been watching the 3,497–kilometer race on TV, and on Sunday they and their children got a taste of competitive cycling in their own town.
The family of four – the kids are Addyson, 8, and Brayden, 5 – rode their bicycles to downtown Geneva to watch the Mill Race Cyclery Classic Criterium. They arrived for the last five laps of the first race, a 20-mile event featuring women in category 3/4.
Heidi Mitchell sat with Addyson along the Third Street curb just north of the stop-start line, clapping and cheering as cyclists in the first men's race whizzed by them. She said she hopes the free family event brings a lot of people to Geneva and its shopping district.
"I think it's good to have the kids come and watch the different competitions they have," Heidi Mitchell said.
Racing began at 10:30 a.m. and was scheduled to last through the evening, with each event featuring men and women of different skill levels, including pro. Kids' races were also planned.
The criterium was the local leg of the International Cycling Classic Superweek Pro Tour, where a race is held every day between July 6 and July 22 in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Chicagoan Andrea Schroeder said her boyfriend, Tommy Rodriguez of Naperville, hopes to accumulate enough points during Superweek to move up a category. Rodriguez raced Sunday in the men's 4/5.
According to the International Cycling Classic website, categories four and five stand for novice and beginner, respectively.
"Come on Tommy!" Schroeder yelled as Rodriguez closed in on another lap in the 20-mile, 24-lap race.
"He's trying to stay in the top 10," she said, explaining he placed ninth at the Wood Dale Criterium on Saturday.
Cyclists followed a 0.8-mile course that included six turns, a small hill and segments of Third, Fulton, Fifth, South, Sixth and Campbell streets.
Morning spectators were scattered throughout the course, but most congregated along Third Street, where announcers could be heard updating the racers' progress.
With the first women's race about halfway through, Naperville resident Rob Jungles called out to his wife, Mona Kuna, letting her know how many laps remained.
Kuna has participated in 10 to 12 races this year and trains with her bicycling club, Alberto's, Jungles said.
A racer himself, Jungles said cyclists often pay attention to their position within a pack, especially during turns. Tight corners string the field out, he said, and being at the back requires more energy to catch up.
Visit www.internationalcycling.com for more information about Superweek, including a full schedule and a glossary of cycling terms.