On Thursday morning, city officials and bike enthusiasts gathered at the steps of City Hall to officially announce the schedule of the second annual New Haven Grand Prix bicycle race.
This year’s race, to be held on Friday, Sept. 16, will feature three different races, all happening during the twilight hours, alongside an ongoing food and beer festival from 4 p.m. onwards. The three races each represent different levels of racing, which are classified as junior, 3 and 4 level as well as professional 1, 2 and 3 racing. All races are expected to conclude by 9 p.m., after which time organizers will host an awards ceremony for professional racers and athletes and observers can convene at Cask Republic — a tavern on Crown Street — for an afterparty.
“It feels great to race in New Haven,” Yale Cycling Team member Matt Ampleman LAW ’17 said. “There is nothing like seeing your city from a different angle, owning the roads and competing with and in front of your friends.”
Participating cyclists will bike on a course very central to New Haven. Starting at the intersection of College and Chapel Streets, cyclists will race up Chapel, turn right on High Street, then right again on Elm Street before turning right on Chapel Street to complete the race loop.
According to the event’s website, last year over 15,000 spectators gathered around the two-block loop to watch racers speed by. In addition to observing the cyclists, those who attend can also look forward to live music, a climbing wall and beer gardens, amongst other attractions.
Co-Captain of the Yale Cycling Team Amber Collett FES ’17 said the team was excited to have the event in town again and that they hoped to encourage students to attend and become inspired to take a few rides themselves.
New Haven has frequently been dubbed one of the nation’s most bike-friendly cities and Mayor Toni Harp said the event fits right into the Elm City’s evolution toward a more bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly environment.
Following that trend, this year’s event will benefit the Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program, a nonprofit organization that encourages cycling as a way of staying healthy and fit.
“All told, city streets in downtown New Haven will be the scene for 70 miles of competitive, grand prix-style bike racing,” Harp said at Thursday’s press conference to a crowd of dozens. “It’s one more summertime extravaganza to look forward to.”
Ampleman said the Yale Cycling team has not been preparing specifically for this race, but he expects that some of the more advanced cyclists on the team could be in the professional race. And though this will be Ampleman’s first time racing in a night race, he said the course would be “very well-” lit and that he had no cause of concern for the quality of the city’s pavement.
For Harp, next week’s event represents a “repeat performance of a breakthrough event” held in New Haven last year, when roughly 100 cyclists took to the roads.
As of Thursday night, 57 cyclists had signed up to compete in the race.