3rd annual Criterium, Block Party set for Saturday in Lake Bluff

More than 400 bike racers are expected at the 3rd Annual Northwestern Medicine Lake Bluff Criterium in the village’s downtown on Saturday, July 19.

The race features high-level amateur riders followed by professional men’s and women’s cycling teams with top pro riders from across the United States and around the world.

The competition takes place on a .93-mile loop on downtown village streets with races running from 10 a.m. through 8 p.m.

“We’ll probably have 65 percent men,” Race Director Marco Colbert said of the competition breakdown. “We are trying to grow women’s racing.”

This year’s Crit will include a special beginner women race category to spark more female participation, Colbert said.

The shortest women’s race — an amateur race — will be 30 minutes. Professional women will race 60 minutes and professional men, 90 minutes.

Saturday’s race is listed on USA Cycling’s National Criterium Calendar, meaning it will attract teams and racers from all over the country and from many foreign countries as well, according to Colbert.

International racers expected in Lake Bluff on Saturday will hail from Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Teams to watch include the United HealthCare pro men’s team and female cycling legend Tina Pic, who has won the U.S. National Criterium Championship many times, Colbert said.

“Northwestern Medicine supports and encourages cycling for advanced and professional racers like those in the Criterium and also as a family fitness activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and athletic ability,” said Thomas McAfee, president of Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital. “Promoting healthy activities like cycling is a part of Northwestern’s ‘Patients First’ mission to create healthier communities.”

Spectators can line the route or watch the races on large television screens set up downtown and celebrate at the Block Party.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Lake Bluff Parks, the Block Party will run from 4 to 11 p.m. and feature local restaurants providing a Taste of Lake Bluff on the Green and live music by local musicians in the Gazebo.

Children’s fun races in downtown Lake Bluff will start at 5:50 p.m.

Young cyclists, ages 3 to 10, can participate in the bike races, where they will go at their own pace and with their own age group. The four children’s heats will end at the finish line, located at Scranton and Oak avenues, just like the pros.

Each child must be registered in advance to participate. Registration will take place at the Lake Bluff branch of Lake Forest Bank & Trust, the children’s race sponsor, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through Friday, July 18, and 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 19.

There is no entry fee and each child will receive a medal. All children’s race participants must wear a helmet.

Lake Bluff Village President Kathy O’Hara called the annual bike race and block party “spectacular” and encouraged residents and non-residents to join in the party and race-watching.

For more details, go to www.lakebluffcriterium.com.

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