March 10, 2012

Better outlook for Georgia Cup on third trip to Dalton

The sun may finally shine on the Dalton Grand Prix.

The Carpet Capital’s stop on the Georgia Cup cycling circuit has been affected by rain to some degree each of its first two years, but as the event returns this weekend, today’s forecast is for cool temperatures, but sunny skies and no chance of precipitation.

Today’s competition will begin with a 9 a.m. time trial in the Rocky Face area on a 10-mile course that starts and finishes at Westside Elementary. Action will shift to Dalton High at 2 p.m. for a circuit race that will outline the 1.2-mile loop around campus on Manly Street and Waugh Street, when temperatures are expected to climb into the lower 60s.

The circuit race takes the place of the downtown criterium that was held each of the past two years, including the inaugural Dalton Grand Prix in July 2010, when it was the only race of the weekend held in Dalton.

The event, which is overseen by SpinCycle Sports, will return to Rocky Face on Sunday, finishing with an 8 a.m. road race that also starts and finishes at Westside Elementary. Race-time temperatures are expected to be in the 40s under clear skies.

The weekend’s racing has categories for juniors, women, several divisions of men, men’s masters and professionals. In an interview with The Daily Citizen last week, Georgia Cup director James Lowe said he expected more than 500 riders from around the region to participate over the weekend. In a release last month, Dalton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Brett Huske estimated an economic impact of $50,000 for the area.

The first year the event was held, rain earlier in the day appeared to keep some spectators home for the late afternoon event, but local cyclists were still enthusiastic about the chance to race on their own streets. Last year, when the competition was moved to March, heavy rain forced the cancellation of Saturday morning’s time trials and had a noticeable impact on the number of fans and participants at that afternoon’s criterium.

But the weather should be good today, and Lowe said last week he was hoping the Dalton Grand Prix would finally get a chance to showcase what the area has to offer competitive cyclists with no hindrance from Mother Nature.

“What is neat is these racers don’t have a chance to come to Dalton,” he said. “They’re in Atlanta or in Florida most of the time. I would say Dalton is one of the best venues we have in Georgia.”

This is the second of three consecutive weekends the area will host competitive cyclists. The Snake Creek Gap Mountain Time Trial Series finished last weekend, and Dalton State College’s cycling club will host three collegiate races next weekend.

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