Natchez Classic brings cyclists, spectators downtown today

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 24, 2000

One month after cyclists from all over the nation battled for the United State Cycling Federation Elite Men’s National Championship, the Natchez Bicycle Classic takes center stage today and Sunday.

While the national championship was one race, the Natchez Bicycle Classic is a stage race, which means there is more than one race. Natchez Bicycle Classic organizer Curtis Moroney said he is expecting about 200 riders.

&uot;We did get word that the Mercy Cycling team (Fort Smith, Ark.) was returning,&uot; Moroney said. That team won last month’s nationals.

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There will be five divisions, including the Men’s Senior 1, 2, 3 category, which are the top riders.

There will also be a Senior 4 & 5 division, Master’s 1, 2, 3; Master’s 4, 5; Women’s 1, 2, 3 and a Women’s 4 for the first time.

The Classic consists of the Isle of Capri Time Trials, which begins at 7 a.m. on Main Street.

Cyclists in the five divisions go from Main Street to Canal where they take a left until they reach D.A. Biglane Street. The route goes down Biglane and up Silver Street to Broadway.&160;Cyclists take a right on Franklin and go up to Rankin before turning right. Another right on Main leads to the finish line.

Streets that will be closed during the time trials beginning at 6 a.m. are Main from Rankin to Broadway; Canal from Franklin to State; Canal southbound from State to Biglane; Biglane and Silver Street; and Franklin from Broadway to Rankin; and Rankin from Franklin to Main. Those streets will be closed from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

&uot;The course is marked for violations,&uot; said Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff. &uot;The insurance covering the race requires no vehicles on the route and we sure don’t want to two anybody off.&uot;

At 4:30 p.m., the Herring Gas Road Race will start downtown, head out to Kingston and return downtown.

Cyclists start on Commerce, go out State Street to Quitman onto Liberty Road where they make a 17-mile loop in Kingston. The road race will have prime (pronounced Preem) spots, which are sprints within a race for extra points or prizes. Main Street from St. Charles to Wall will be closed from 6:30 p.m. to about 8 p.m. will be closed.

A race party will be held beginning at 9 p.m. downtown at the Natchez Sports Bar.

On Sunday, the Trippe’s Western Auto Downtown Criterium will complete the race.

Course marshals will be lined up along race routes to assist motorists and spectators.