By Steve Maher
WENATCHEE — Tour de Bloom Omnium will welcome more than 270 cyclists from around the Northwest for this weekend’s annual races in the Greater Wenatchee Area.
The event shifts into gear with the Hill Climb Race on Saturday morning from Squilchuck State Park to Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort. Riders will then descend on downtown Wenatchee for the Criterium Race on Saturday afternoon and into the evening. The omnium concludes Sunday morning with the Road Race in the Waterville area.
The host organizing group, Wenatchee Valley Velo Club, is giving away a record $15,000 in cash and prizes to top riders.
“This is one of three main cycling race in the state — the other two being Tour of Walla Walla and Tour of Enumclaw — and we are thrilled to see so many riders descending on the Wenatchee area for what should be two great days of racing,” said Ace Bollinger, Tour de Bloom race director. “With sunny 70-degree days in the offing, this is going to be one great time for riders and spectators.”
Tour de Bloom is considered part of the Apple Blossom Festival, which earlier in the day will hold its Grand Parade on some of the same streets that riders in the criterium will be racing on later.
The criterium takes place on a closed four-square-block area in downtown from 2:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday. The streets that make up the race course are First Street, Mission Street, Orondo Avenue and Wenatchee Avenue.
Some of the road closures in effect for the Apple Blossom Festival Parade will remain for Tour de Bloom. Besides the aforementioned the streets that make up the bike race course, north-bound Wenatchee Avenue and Mission Street will be closed at Yakima street, and south-bound Wenatchee Avenue will be closed at First Street.
Tour de Beer, a series of craft beer gardens along or near the downtown criterium course, will be open from 3 to 9 p.m., Saturday.
The outdoor beer gardens are located on Wenatchee Avenue at Palouse Street; on Wenatchee Avenue at Orondo Avenue; and at Memorial Park near the Apple Blossom Festival entertainment stage.
“People can enjoy a craft beer or two, get some food at the Apple Blossom Festival’s Food Court, and socialize with friends and family in an incredible setting,” Bollinger said. “We see it as an outstanding way to cap the two-week run of the Apple Blossom Festival and to bring people back downtown.”
Funds raised from Tour de Bloom go toward kids biking safety programs, the Apple Capital Loop Trail extension, and bicycle advocacy programs in the Wenatchee Valley.