Tour de Moore Features New Format For 33rd Annual Jaunt Through County
This year the colorful cyclists that dash down Broad Street Saturday during the Southern Pines Springfest as a capper to the long-running Tour de Moore are providing a slightly different spectacle.
The format change this year has consolidated the normal five races into three, with all three races involving Masters' competitors.
"The complexity of bringing five separate races into the center of town was increasing," said Bruce Cunningham, one of the event's organizers. "So we have scaled back the race to three groups of Masters category racers."
The race categories are now based on age groups: 30+, 40+ and a combined race with 50+ and 60+ competitors. All the races will start at the corner of Youngs Road and Ridge Street in downtown Southern Pines. The finish line is near the Train Depot on Broad Street.
The races start at 10 a.m., with the final group expected to pass the finish line at approximately 1 p.m. At 10 a.m. the 30+ category begins and will race for 77 miles. At 10:05 a.m. the 40+ category departs for a 55-mile circuit. The 50+ and 60+ categories compete on a 41-mile course, starting their race at 10:10 a.m.
The 30+ and 40+ racers will be competing for $1,500 (15 places) in each category. The 50+ will be offering a $1,000 prize list (15 places). The 60+ category will be competing for three places in prize money.
Cunningham, who was a driving force behind the start of the road race 32 years ago, thinks the event still thrives because of the appeal of the town of Southern Pines and the reception the cyclists are given.
"This year's race will be like a reunion," he said, "with riders coming back who raced the Tour de Moore over 30 years ago. The riders are excited about returning to Moore County.They love racing here. Last week I asked a racer from Montreal who was here training how he liked Moore County. He said, 'This is as good as it gets -- nice roads, nice scenery, nice people."
That scenery involves a route out on Youngs Road and Lake Bay Road through beautiful horse country toward Woodlake Country Club. Once the race is in the vicinity of Woodlake, a 13-mile circuit will be ridden in multiple laps, based on the determined distances.
The racers then come back on Lake Bay Road and Youngs Road, speeding their way around Southern Pines where the last 3 miles are punctuated by a series of turns through neighborhood streets and a longish uphill climb to a final flat 500-meter sprint.
Cunningham can't wait for the 33rd running of the race to get under way.
"It will be fun for me, too," Cunningham said. "After organizing the race for 32 years, it is still exciting to see the multi-colored pack of riders racing through the beautiful Moore County countryside.
"It feels like the Tour de France going by fields of flowers and small villages in the south of France."
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