Jan 23, 2007

How cool would this be...I am not much of a fan of Interbike but if these plans go ahead i will be back in "sin city" for sure!

Two race promoters are planning separate events in Las Vegas as part of the late-September Interbike trade show. Denver-Boulder Couriers promoter Chris Grealish is planning a September 26 UCI cyclo-cross race called Cross Vegas, while USA Crits series promoter Gene Dixon hopes to host the series finale, titled the World Criterium Championships, the following evening. Neither twilight event is directly affiliated with the Interbike trade show, but both hope to draw the thousands of industry folk that flock to Vegas every year. Racing categories will be open to elite men and women. Grealish, who promoted the Boulder Cup stop of the 2006 U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, is headed to the world cyclo-cross championships on Wednesday and has a stack of race flyers printed in Flemish to distribute to the world's best riders in hopes of drawing them to the UCI Cat. 1 event. And because of its late September date, the hope is that trans-Atlantic travel will not affect key European racers. "I've had the idea for literally 10 years," Grealish said. "I've tried to get other people to do it, but everyone says, ‘That's a great idea, but I don't want to take it on.' So by default I'm taking the project upon myself. I want to show the sport to the largest cycling audience we could come up with." Grealish is in discussion with representatives of the parks system of Clark County in hopes of securing Sunset Park, the largest park in the county, five miles from the Sands Expo Center. He admitted, however, that it hasn't been easy. "The folks out there are less inclined to let us ride bikes on the few blades of grass they have," Grealish said. "They've never been involved or asked to use a park site in this fashion before. They're mildly open to the idea. Fortunately, with the reputation we have with the City of Boulder's Parks and Recreation department, we were able to get them to write a letter of recommendation on our behalf." The race date, September 26, will coincide with the end of the first day of Interbike. Grealish said he intends to fuse the worlds of 'cross and Vegas with an Elvis impersonator and a bikini-clad lap-counter girl, similar to the round-counter girls in high-profile Las Vegas boximg matches. He's also looking into the possibility of having gaming related to the event, so spectators could bet on their favorite racers. "We're hoping match to match some Vegas flair in to what has been historically been a somewhat stoic activity," Grealish said. "Maybe we can add a little twist. Instead of a straight up 'cross race, it will be a big party with a race in the middle of it." If all goes according to plan, the following evening the cycling industry will turn out again for the World Criterium Championships, the final race of the revamped USA Crits series. Last year's series, which strung together six races in the southeast following the Tour De Georgia beginning with Dixon's Athens Twilight Criterium http://www.athenstwilight.com/, has been re-branded USA Crits Southeast. This year's USA Crits series is truly national, incorporating races such as New Jersey's Tour of Somerville, Virginia's CSC Invitational, Colorado's Parker Twilight Criterium and, Dixon hopes, the World Criterium Championships in Las Vegas. As with Grealish, a race held in Vegas during Interbike is something Dixon has dreamed of for years. In 2006 he told VeloNews, "Vegas would be the ultimate nighttime race. And the bike show would be a great time to do it. We're just lacking one thing: money." Though he's not ready to disclose details such as whether the race would be held on Vegas's infamous Strip, Dixon seems to be a step closer to making the event a reality this year, adding it to his schedule and courting potential sponsors. "We have some ideas but we can't really talk about it yet," Dixon said. "It's well on its way, but I'd hate to go telling people where it is just yet. Though the two promoters haven't yet compared notes, in a perfect world they might be able to share certain resources, such as porta-potties and fencing.
One pro rider that would like to compete in both events is Health Net-Maxxis rider Tim Johnson, who finished second overall in the 2006 USGP series. Though he'd only just learned of the races, Johnson said the timing would be a perfect way to end his road season, begin his 'cross season and make the best of his sponsor obligations at Interbike. "As soon as I heard about the ‘cross race I was planning on doing it," Johnson said. "Some people have complained about getting tired of Vegas and getting sore feet from standing around at the show all day. This is what we need to give it some life back. I'll definitely do the 'cross race, it sounds like such a huge opportunity for the sport. I think I'd line up for the road race too."

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