Natchez will host national bike race in late May

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 8, 2000

Hundreds of cyclists will soon be pedaling through Natchez for the Elite Road Race National Championships.

The United States Cyclists Federation (USCF) announced Monday that Natchez will be the official site of this annual event.

The City of Natchez did not even ask to be considered as a site, said Natchez resident and local cyclist Curtis Moroney.

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&uot;When they called us and asked us if we would do it, my jaw hit the floor,&uot;&160;he said.

Moroney attributes Natchez’s selection to the city’s history of successful bike races and the location of this year’s Olympic Trials.

&uot;If it were not for the fact that the Olympic trials (are) in Jackson, we would probably not be hosting nationals this year,&uot; he said.

A delegation from USCF visited Natchez last week as part of the final phase in the site-selection process.

&uot;We are excited to bring some of the nation’s premier cycling event to the state of Mississippi and we feel confident that the community of Natchez will provide an excellent environment for our national championship event,&uot;&160;said Evan Call USCF/USPR managing director.

The race will take place Sunday, May 21.

&uot;We have sort of fallen in this thing,&uot; Moroney said &uot;(It) could have gone to a lot of different cities.&uot;

The race will draw about 200 category one cyclists from around the country to Natchez.

The first amateur to cross the finish line will be the National Champion.

&uot;I think it’s a unique opportunity for us to become a player in this very popular and growing sport,&uot;&160;said Natchez Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown, about the announcement.

The race will last five hours and cover about 115 miles, including about five or six loops of downtown Natchez.

Natchez already hosts a bike race known as the Natchez Bicycle Classic each June.

This race will remain a priority for local cyclists because its success helped lure the USCF to Natchez.

&uot;We can’t forget about the Natchez Bicycle Classic, which is what got us here,&uot; Moroney said.