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Big Sky’s first criterium

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Story and photos by Emily Stifler
A criterion bike race is like man-powered
go-cart racing, says Alex Hassman,
who competed in Big Sky’s first
ever criterium or “crit” on Friday,
July 11. That evening, 75 men and
women road bike racers from across
the Northwest came to town as part
of the first stage of the Tour de Bozeman
bike race.
Participants raced a 6/10-mile road
loop in the Town Center for 30, 45
or 60 minutes, depending on the
category in which they’d entered.
In a crit, “The track is small, and the
corners are tight. It’s a circuit, and
the race pulses as the group speeds
up and slows down. It’s brutal in a
way, because of the speed,” Hassman
said. “It’s fast, and guys are jockeying
around tight corners. A couple
times [on the] corners, my pedal hit
the asphalt.”
When a race official rings a cowbell
and announces a prime lap (pronounced
preem), the pack takes off
at a sprint because the winner of
that lap scores a prize – cash or otherwise.
With $8,000 in prize money
in the three-day Tour de Bozeman,
and $4,500 worth of prizes in the
Big Sky event alone, racers had a
reason to stand up and crank on
their pedals. Other events in the
four-stage Tour included a time
trial and a road race (both in Bridger
Canyon), and sprints in downtown
“I love bike racing – that’s my thing,”
said Ryan Hamilton, Project Manager
of Big Sky’s Town Center. The crit
was his idea, and his bike team, Team
Rockford/Clif, organized the race in
Big Sky, which Hamilton said was a
ton of work. He was especially appreciative
of the volunteer help.
“I think it was a fantastic course, a
unique course, and a very exciting
course,” Hamilton said. “I’m
hopeful the race will continue
to grow over time. If this thing
grows it could be a really big deal
for Big Sky.”


The Tour de Bozeman has grown
since its inception three years ago,
said race director Amy Frykman.
This year had approximately 150 participating
racers and 100 volunteers.
Frykman runs the Bridger Canyon
road race with help from volunteers,
and said the original idea
behind the Tour was to create an
event based around “the coolest,
most beautiful, most unique, and
best [venues] Bozeman has to offer.”
Big Sky’s race also had a connection
to the international road racing
community: Marcel van Garderen.
Father of Bozeman hometown hero
Tejay van Garderen, who races professionally
for HTC-Highroad and
is racing well in the Tour de France
this year, Marcel raced competitively
in the Big Sky crit.

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