Sports

Iowa City's cyclocross World Cup races draw top European, American riders to Midwest

Third year Iowa City has hosted World Cup event as part of annual Jingle Cross Festival

Competitors in the men’s Telenet UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup climb Mount Krumpit during Jingle Cross at the Johnson County Fair Grounds in Iowa City on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Competitors in the men’s Telenet UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup climb Mount Krumpit during Jingle Cross at the Johnson County Fair Grounds in Iowa City on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The best of the best international cyclocross racers are expected to ascend Mount Krumpit once again next weekend.

For spectators it’s a special opportunity to see world class athletes, said Josh Schamberger, president of Think Iowa City, the local tourism bureau, and one of the race organizers. Cyclocross is a bike sport in which racers encounter various terrains, such as mud and sand, obstacles and, in Iowa City, a daunting hill dubbed Mount Krumpit.

“There’s not too many opportunities here or Eastern Iowa to see athletes that are truly the best in their field, not just in the nation but the world,” Schamberger said. “It’s just special. It’s pretty incredible to see athletes of this caliber.”

For the third year in a row, Iowa City is hosting Telenet UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup as part of the three-day Jingle Cross Festival at the Johnson County Fairgrounds. Dozens of races will take place Sept. 28-30, including a men’s World Cup race at 2:30 p.m. and women’s World Cup around 4 p.m. both on Sept. 29.

Admission is free.

In addition to the World Cup races, professional-level races for men and women are scheduled for 7:45 p.m. (women) and 9 p.m. (men) on Friday and 3:30 p.m. (women) and 4:45 p.m. (men) on Sunday. Amateur races for all age groups also are scheduled that weekend.

Other highlights include a free concert by the Pork Tornadoes after the races starting at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and a “doggy cross” event in which dogs and their owners race the course for three laps at 1:15 p.m. Saturday.

A new focus this year is junior racing for ages 9 to 18 with competitions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, including a Junior’s Devo Cup at 11:40 a.m. Saturday. Kids races for those 9 and younger are also Saturday at 12:20 p.m.

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An expo will feature bike-related vendors, Deschutes Brewery will have beer tents and food vendors also will be on hand. A new event this year is a Wine Walk with stops throughout the grounds throughout the day beginning at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

“We have a lot of events for non-racers to participate in this year,” said Tricia Brown, another event organizer.

The World Cup is part of an international circuit, primarily in Europe. The only other race in the United States is in Waterloo, Wis., this weekend. The riders, many from Europe, will arrive in town on Tuesday and begin training on Johnson County roads, Schamberger said.

Heavy rains in the past week, with more in the forecast next week, could create a muddier course for racers, Schamberger said. Participants love those conditions, he said, but it has added some wrinkles to planning and staging the event.

The event drew 15,000 to 17,000 people the first year, and 12,000 to 15,000 last year — a lower number because it was an Iowa home football weekend — but this year’s event should see similar numbers, Schamberger said.

The crowd lines the hill and the fences guarding the course to cheer on the racers.

“It is pretty electric,” Schamberger said. “It’s just fast paced, cowbells, music ... it’s a raucous, high energy crowd. You are not cheering against anybody. You are cheering for everybody, for these athletes to squeeze every ounce of energy out of their bodies.”

More information is online at jinglecross2.com.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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