Arts & Entertainment

Tour of Somerville Weekend: Quarter-Mile Sprints Add High-Speed Dynamic

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Cyclists turn on to Mountain Avenue from East High Street. Credits: Rod Hirsch/Tapinto file photo
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Cycling Hall of Fame member Joe Salig, the "voice" of the Tour of Somerville, interviews his grandson, Noah Granigan, winner of the 2017 race. Credits: Courtesy Ron Czajkowski
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Cyclists are packed together at the start of the race. Credits: Rod Hirsch/Tapinto file photo
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Cyclists race past Somerville Borough Hall on West Avenue. Credits: Rod Hirsch/Tapinto file photo
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Victory! Credits: Rod Hirsch/Tapinto file photo
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Cyclists on West End Avenue race past Somerville Borough Hall. Credits: Rod Hirsch/Tapinto file photo
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Cyclists on East High Street. Credits: Rod Hirsch
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Cyclists lean into the first turn at the corner of West Main Street and South Bridge Street. Credits: Rod Hirsch/Tapinto file photo
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SOMERVILLE, NJ  - The grand daddy of ‘em  all, the 75-year-old Tour of Somerville 50-mile bicycle race, anchors a weekend of world class cycling in Bound Brook and downtown Somerville May 24-28, with a new event added Sunday night to draw more spectators downtown.

Spectators this year will see an additional day of racing beginning with the Bound Brook Criterium on Saturday.

The sprints will also provide an opportunity for more cyclists to earn some money, according to long-time race announcer and Cycling Hall of Fame member Joe Salig, a resident of Bridgewater who has been associated with the Tour of Somerville and the sport of competitive cycling for more than 50 years as a competitor, coach and sponsor.

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“We’ve got some pretty classy sprinters signing up," Salig said.. "A lot of them haven’t got a chance in the the 50 mile race, but they can win a quarter-mile sprint.”

Sprint winners earn $45; the winning female sprinter earns $1,000; men’s winner earns $2,000.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Salig said Saturday night in Wilmington, Del., where he watched his grandson and 2017 Tour of Somerville winner  Noah Granigan place second in a cross country race.

The 21-year-old, who was the 2017 National Collegiate Cycling Champion, is unable to defend his Tour of Somerville title, according to Salig because of a race conflict. Granigan is committed to race with his sponsor’s team in Winston-Salem, NC next weekend.

The quarter-mile sprints will begin on West Main Street at the corner of Bridge Street at 6 p.m.  with the finish line near the United Reform Church, the actual starting line for the longer races that will be run on Monday, May 28.

There will be several dozen sprints, as the field get whittled down after each sprint until the final 4-5 racers who will compete in the final, according to Salig.

Monday is the Tour of Somerville, with several exhibition and junior races leading up to the Kugler-Anderson Memorial, which honors the first two winners, Furman Kugler (1940) and Carl Anderson (1941), both of whom were killed serving their country in World War II.

The 50-mile championship men’s and women’s races each offer a purse of $10,000 to the winners.

Monday’s races will head east down West Main Street from the starting line, turning left onto South Bridge Street for one block, turning left again on to East High Street and turning left again on to Mountain Avenue, before making another left on to West End Avenue, connecting with West Main Street, a roughly 1.25-mile course.

Tens of thousands of people from all over the nation and the world converge on the tree-lined streets of Somerville to cheer the cyclists as they speed up to 40 mph past Victorian-era homes and Main Street storefronts downtown.

The Somerville Memorial Day Parade precedes the race activities, ending with ceremonies at the historic “New Cemetery” on South Bridge Street, which commemorated its 150th anniversary  in 2017. More than 2,000 veterans from as far back as the Civil War are buried at the New Cemetery. 

The race weekend begins Thursday evening, May 25 with The Legal Runaround, a 5K walk-run event in downtown Somerville.

The 23rd annual Memorial Day Family Fun Ride will be on Saturday, May 26, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Somerset County Courthouse on East Main Street, featuring two  laps on the  Tour of Somerville course. Promoted as a family activity, all cyclists! must wear a helmet.

The fee: is $30 per family – plus two t-shirts and $15 per individual and  1 shirt).A portion of the fee will go towards scholarships for high school students.

Following is a list of scheduled activites from the website. For more details, check the website at  www.tourofsomerville.org.

Unity Bank Children’s Activities Sponsored by Unity Bank, children can enjoy entertainment, face painting and other fun activities.

 Kid’s Festival Center Bring your youngster (and their bike) for an opportunity to test their bike handling skills through our cycling obstacle course. Every kid gets a free bike and helmet check.

 Cyclist Race Center Support the top cyclists in the country as they prepare for their race. See top of line racing bikes as pro teams show how world class athletes get ready and warm up.

 Bike Swap Flea Market Got an extra bike or parts you don’t need? Here’s your chance to turn it into some cash. Check out our swap meet devoted to cycling. Bike shops are invited as are local bike clubs.

 Division Street Music Enjoy local entertainment all afternoon, performed by acoustic groups and entertainers. Supported by local restaurants, sit at one of our tables to grab a snack or lunch.

Sports Activity Center Sport demonstrations from local youth organizations, college teams, and pro sports. Watch, learn, and participate as coaches explain how to join in the fun.

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