For the most part, organizing the third annual Tour of Lawrence has been a lot easier than previous years when the event was still getting off the ground.
But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been complications in the days leading up to this weekend’s three cycling races.
Bob Sanner, sports marketing manager for the Lawrence Convention & Visitors Bureau, said that minor problems just keep popping up.
“But by and large, I think everyone understands what the event is about and what needs to be done when and how,” Sanner, also the event director, said.
The event kicks off at 7 tonight with the Crown Toyota Street Sprints near Eighth and New Hampshire streets. The women start their heats at 7 p.m. and the men follow at 8 p.m.
Sanner said he was especially excited about tonight’s schedule, which includes live music outside the Sandbar, 17 E. Eighth St., before and after the races.
“We can offer a true T.G.I.F. situation,” Sanner said.
The Kansas University Campus Circuit Race will take place on Saturday, when riders embark on a grueling 4.4-mile loop around campus. Heats run all day long, with the professional riders racing in the late afternoon.
The event returns to downtown on Sunday morning for the second annual Mass Street Mile Run — sponsored by Garry Gribble’s Running Sports — and the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Downtown Criterium, which starts at noon.
The Criterium is a one-mile course that riders loop around for about an hour, with the winner being the person who crosses the finish line without being lapped.
Sanner said the group of professional riders expected to compete was the strongest in the Tour’s history and rivals any field in the country this weekend. There is a total cash purse of $20,000 for the three separate USA Cycling Pro-Am events.
Those looking to experience competitive cycling for the first time should definitely show up Sunday for the “lightning-fast” Criterium, Sanner said.
And there’s plenty of outside attractions to keep more casual cycling fans entertained.
“I think we have something for everyone, and that’s what so unique and great about the Tour of Lawrence,” Sanner said.