Cycling championships draw crowds from across the country to Augusta

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Mitzi Silber had everything she needed Friday for a day at the races.

With folding chairs, a water bottle and sunglasses, she was prepared to watch her 17-year-old son, Kipp, race by her on Broad Street in the USA Cycling National Cham­pionships criterium.

Though Kipp would not race for about another three hours – he was in the men’s 17-18 division – she eagerly watched as clusters of cyclists sped past her. Kipp was elsewhere, working on the wheels of his bike.

Not only is she Kipp’s biggest cheerleader, but she is in charge of membership and on the board of directors for his cycling team, Merrill Lynch/Team Dayton.

She’s also a riding partner.

“We’re a riding family,” said Silber, though she only started racing this year. Her husband, Craig, has raced for four years. Neither competed in this week’s championships.

Kipp won the Ohio state road championship in 2010 and last year placed 30th in the national competition.

“It was 12 seconds out of first place. That was awesome,” Silber said.

Only two of his 120 team members made the trip from Dayton, Ohio, Silber said.

Last year was Kipp’s first trip to nationals because it was within driving distance, she said.

“The two years before here, it was all the way in Oregon,” she said. “I’m not going to drive to Oregon.”

More than 1,000 cyclists from across the country also made the trip, and the friends or family members who came with them bring the tourist numbers into the thousands, said Brinsley Thigpen, the CEO of the Augusta Sports Council.

“We’re estimating about a $2 million impact,” she said.

More than 300 volunteers helped with traffic control, manned water stations and sold T-shirts while the cyclists wound their way through downtown.

Thigpen said such competitions bring national exposure to Augusta.

“We’ve started bringing some elite events to our city,” she said.

Liz Barbot came from Boulder, Colo., to cheer on her boyfriend of five years, Jim Peterman.

Peterman’s mother, Sophia Bro­thers Peterman, drove from Atlanta to watch with her. Now that he lives in Boulder, she doesn’t get to support her son as much as she once did.

“It’s been a dream of his to ride in the Elite,” Brothers Peterman said.

Peterman placed fourth in the U23 Elite time trials Thursday at Lake Thurmond.

This is his first year in the national competition. Barbot said he has been competing somewhere nearly every weekend since March. This is the farthest he has traveled for a race, she said. They flew from Denver.

Brothers Peterman said her son was excited to be competing this weekend, though perhaps not excessively so.

“He’s a chill guy, so he’s not going to be bouncing off the walls,” she said.

“He got fourth yesterday. He’s been happy.”

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scgator 06/23/12 - 07:17 am
The sports council knows

The sports council knows NOTHING about accounting and EVERYTHING about "blowing smoke"; I personally helped with a small sporting event several years ago and the council said the economic impact for the local economy would be close to $500K; in reality, it was 12 participants, and about 30 paying fans for 3 hours on a Saturday afternoon; but, they still stood by their economic study sure looks good when you're trying to get taxpayer funding.

mosovich 06/23/12 - 09:13 am
scgator you're clueless...

You're so out of touch.. You got 1,000 athletes staying in hotels that average about 100 a night, they bring massive support with them, parents, team support etc, they have to eat each day, they've mostly been here since Monday, races end on Sunday, they buy gas, shop at some of our stores etc.. So, what you're saying is you'd rather nothing come to Augusta and we just stay in the same old lame place to live mode... Plus, the it's not like the Sports Council is made of a staff of 50 people milking the system like other city departments, there's only like three to five employees, and they aren't getting rich and work large numbers of hours that they aren't even paid for..

Cestlavie 06/23/12 - 02:18 pm
I agree mosovich. I have

I agree mosovich. I have seen the team vans in different shopping areas around town and I know that this event has made a definite economic impact in the area. It was so much fun actually being downtown and watching the criterium races yesterday. I think it's an amazing coup that this event came here the past 2 years; plus we've seen some heavyweight sprinters in the cycling world come through both years. The Sports Council does an incredible job with these events.

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