News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, June 17, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Right now more than a thousand cyclists are heading our way. They will be filling up your streets all week long for the USA Cycling National Championships, and there are a lot of things that you need to know.
The championships brought thousands to the area last year and they're doing it all over again this year.
"Even if you're not a cycling fan, if you're from this community, you've got to be excited about this event," said Randy DuTeau with the Augusta Sports Council. "You've got over a thousand people competing and with them you're probably gonna have another thousand people from friends, family, staff, coaches, etc."
Thousands of people bringing a lot of money to the area.
"We'll probably see an economic impact of about $1.5 to $2.1 million and that's pretty significant," DeTeau said.
Races begin on Wednesday, but the cyclists are already arriving and will be out on the streets all week long. This means drivers need to make sure they are paying extra attention.
"A lot of the athletes are gonna be training," DeTeau said. "They're gonna be warming up prior to races, and we do urge caution and to give them a little bit of grace."
This will also mean road closures and detours. On Thursday, the time trials will cause the area from Strom Thurmond Dam down to Pollards Corner and on to Cobham Road to be closed.
On Friday, beginning at 8 a.m., they will close off the streets in downtown Augusta between 8th and 11th streets and Broad and Greene streets. The other three days will be at Fort Gordon.
"This is for the safety of the athletes, so it will present challenges and we are working to mitigate those challenges for the people who live along the route as much as we can," DeTeau said.
They say this is a fun event and if you've never seen cycling, now is the time.
"If you're looking to see something that's truly exciting, come and see the criterium in downtown Augusta. The circuit is about nine-tenths of a mile; the athletes will be coming around every minute, the speeds will reach up to 45 mph -- we call it NASCAR on bicycles," DeTeau said.
This is the last year Augusta will hold this event. From here, the event is heading to Madison, Wisc.
We have some big names in the cycling world coming to Augusta this week, including some athletes who will be heading to London for the Olympics this year.
On Friday, they will be announcing the Paralympic cycling team that will be going to London. That will happen at 6 p.m. in downtown Augusta.