Oct 20, 2023 - News

Cyclists converge in St. Pete for CRIT championship

women cyclists mid-race

Photo courtesy of Kit Karzen

St. Petersburg is about to raise the bar for cyclists.

Driving the news: Thousands of bike racers from around the country will be in the Edge district on Saturday for the premier of a new cycling race, the Circuit Racing International Tour (CRIT) Championship.

Why it matters: It's a cycling event akin to IndyCar's Firestone Grand Prix, which transforms the city into a race car track each year.

  • Some of the country's best racers including Kendall Ryan will be competing for prizes.

Flashback: After Tampa stopped hosting Cigar City and Gasparilla criteriums in 2013, cyclists with a deep-seated desire to compete had to travel to Georgia or Miami for the closest big races.

State of play: That's about to change as St. Pete entrepreneurs plan more races. Saturday's event is the first race in the Orange Belt Cycling Series started by Michael Rideout, former owner of Made Coffee, and Nathan Stonecipher, Green Bench Brewing co-owner.

The intrigue: Los Angeles racer Justin Williams started CRIT, which garnered a multimillion-dollar investment from the head of a Miami talent agency to bring cycling into the next generation and make the sport more inclusive.

What they're saying: "We are building what we couldn't find: a stage that welcomes riders from all walks of life, encourages competition at the highest level, and above all inspires the next generation of riders to ensure the legacy of our sport," Williams told Cycling Weekly when the race was announced in April.

  • Seeing Williams race inspired Rideout and Stonecipher to start the Orange Belt series, Rideout told Axios.

Plus: You don't have to be a hardcore cyclist to enjoy the CRIT. The race is centered on a daylong block party that includes a skating competition, a 5k run, a free morning community ride and yoga.

The bottom line: No matter who bikes fastest, the race is a huge win for St. Petersburg.

  • "CRIT Championship was originally eyeing bigger markets," Rideout told Axios. "We're really hoping that everyone shows up so we can win over the league, and they bring the race back here."

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