Woodstock welcomes cycling event back for the second year.
By Stacy Brown
The Tour of the Southern Highlands cycling stage race is returning to the area this year. The weekend’s events will kick off downtown March 2.
The men’s and women’s pro criterium prologue race will take place on a .8-mile course starting at Market Street, going clockwise taking a right on Hickory Street, a right on Paden Street, and a right on Mill Street to return to Market Street.
The public is invited to an infield race watch party on the Elm Street Event Green, where spectators will get a perfect view of all the action. There will be Reformation Brewery craft beer, food trucks, cornhole and more. This night also is the kickoff of the 2018 Friday Night Live season, so there will be a great atmosphere in downtown Woodstock to welcome competitors and their families.
On Saturday, amateurs will join the action with the Merckx Time Trial, beginning and ending at Arnold Mill Elementary School. The race consists of clockwise laps around a 5.3-mile circuit. There will be one lap for Stage 1, Merckx TT, and multiple laps, dependent on category or class, for the circuit race. Competitors will go off at 30-second intervals, beginning at 7:30 a.m., for a 2-mile out and back of fast, flat and fast, straight, with a few 90 degree and 180 degree turns. Best viewing will be in front of Arnold Mill Elementary School, with an awards ceremony at the finish line.
Sunday’s High Country Road Race consists of counter-clockwise laps around a 15-mile circuit. The course starts and finishes on Valley Street in front of Ball Ground Elementary School. The Stage 3 Road Race begins at 8:30 a.m., with up to three fields on the course at any one time. The road course is glorious scenery of rolling, pastoral terrain, and it is epic, sporting short, challenging climbs to separate the field, before the long, flowing downhills give it a chance to come back together.
Best spectator viewing on the course will be at or near the corner of Valley Street and Beck Street, where Ball Ground City Hall sits by the Botanical Gardens. There will be an awards ceremony and closing festival with food and activities following the men’s race.
The ToSH is a three-day professional and two-day amateur cycling stage race. It’s a USA Cycling-sanctioned Pro/Am, with a full schedule, as well as a USA Junior National Team selection race. It’s the only United States Junior National Team selection race east of the Rocky Mountains. Participants and their families travel from as far as California to compete.
“Downtown Woodstock is happy to have Tour of the Southern Highlands back this year,” Tourism Manager Kyle Bennett said. “The restaurants and shops are delighted to welcome competitors and spectators, alongside Friday Night Live eventgoers, with great sales and specials, and a fantastic atmosphere.”
Positioned at the beginning of March, The ToSH attracts some of the top athletes in the sport and serves as perfect preparation for more racing throughout the region and across the country.
Go to visitwoodstockga.com/tosh or visit www.toshsr.com for more information.