The wheel deal for bikers

Second annual road-bike competition takes to the streets this weekend

MORE FUN AFTER THE FIREWORKS— Above, professional cyclist Marco Arocha makes his breakaway during the 2017 805 Thousand Oaks Grand Prix Masters race. At left, Hannah Hipley participates in the kids’ race, which is open to all local youth. This year’s Grand Prix starts Saturday. Photos courtesy PB Creative Photos

MORE FUN AFTER THE FIREWORKS— Above, professional cyclist Marco Arocha makes his breakaway during the 2017 805 Thousand Oaks Grand Prix Masters race. At left, Hannah Hipley participates in the kids’ race, which is open to all local youth. This year’s Grand Prix starts Saturday. Photos courtesy PB Creative Photos

Road-bicycle racing returns to the streets of Thousand Oaks this weekend with the second annual appearance by the 805 Criterium Series.

The 805 Thousand Oaks Grand Prix will take place Sat. and Sun., July 7 and 8 in the Rancho Conejo industrial area of Newbury Park.

Professionals will compete for $10,000 in cash prizes.

In addition to pro and amateur races, this year’s grand prix features kids’ races starting at 12:25 p.m. Children are encouraged to sign up by 11:30 a.m.

There is no cost for spectators to watch any part of the competition.

Saturday’s pro circuit race— with a purse of $4,000—is on a 2-mile course with an uphill grind to the finish line near the corner of Conejo Spectrum Street and Conejo Center Drive.

Sunday’s criterium race ($6,000 purse) is on a challenging 1.2-mile, three-turn course that organizer Tom FitzGibbon said will be prized by “racers and spectators alike for excitement and thrills as racers go all out in the uphill finish.

 

 

“The speeds are pretty high,” he said. “For the pros it’s usually between 27 and 28 mph for the whole time that they’re going. In the finishing sprint, the racers will often approach 40 mph.”

Unlike the majority of cycling competitions, the 805 Criterium Series offers equal prize money for men and women in the elite championship races, he said.

“Even though the women’s fields tend to be smaller, we offer equal money for both,” FitzGibbon said. “We did last year, and we’re doing it again this year.”

The women’s pro races will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday and 2:45 p.m. Sunday. The men’s pro races are at 4 p.m. Saturday and 3:45 p.m. the next day.

Registration is available online and on race day up to 15 minutes before each race.

FitzGibbon said he hopes to establish the Thousand Oaks Grand Prix in the tradition of events like the Amgen Tour of California, which has passed through T.O. several times over the past 10 years.

“There’s a lot of proud cycling history here (in the Conejo Valley), and we want to continue that tradition. The people that race in this are anywhere from beginning racers—called Category 5—up to professionals,” he said.

In addition to the racing action, there will be an expo near the finish line with cycling-related vendors and booths, and a beer and wine garden hosted by Sierra Nevada and the Stonehaus.

Proceeds from the garden will benefit the Michael P. Nosco Foundation, a local charity named for a 20-year Navy veteran killed in an auto accident in 2004.

Parking for the event is at the Anthem lot at Lawrence and Conejo Center drives. On Saturday, parking will also be available along Conejo Spectrum.

For more information about the event or to register to race, go to 805toGP.bike.