The 17th Green Mountain Stage Race (GMSR) starts tomorrow, September 1. Registration was not quite closed as The Valley Reporter went to press, but race director Gary Kessler said, “Registration has been very strong this year. We had so many early registrants, and I expect that registration will be well above the five-year average, which is fantastic.”
The GMSR brings over 650 to 750 racers and their family members, friends and coaches to the Mad River Valley (MRV) where they stay for four nights and four days of racing. Overall 1,200 to 1,500 racers and race supporters stream into the area from around the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Caribbean.
For 2017, the Green Mountain Stage Race was selected to be on the exclusive American Racing Calendar. There are only 12 races on this national calendar and only two are stage races.
The GMSR will have four stages this year with two of them in the MRV. Stage 1, The Warren Store individual time trial, will take place starting in Warren Village at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. Time trials are also known as the “race of truth” as each racer must complete the course as fast as they can without the benefit of drafting other racers or using their team for assistance. The GMSR Time Trial course is challenging with a little bit of everything including climbing, rolling sections and few downhills as well a trip through the “dip” in the last kilometer ending with a very painful 500M gradual climb to the finish from the top of the dip to finish at the Common Road intersection. It favors strong all-around racers. The stage will wrap up in the midafternoon.
On Saturday, the Bridges Resort Road Race will take place in Killington. This course is relatively flat for Vermont with racers competing on a 54-mile loop. Most fields will ride a single lap, but the pro men and the category 2 men will each ride two laps for 108 miles of racing. There are sprints at the finish line each lap as well as a mid-lap sprint. There are also two king/queen of the mountains climbing sprints on each lap. The race was originally planned to be a circuit race starting in Randolph, but 20 days prior to the race it was determined that a 6-mile section of the planned route would not be paved in time.
Sunday is the Champion System Mad River Road Race, which is considered the “Queen Stage” of the event. The race starts at Mt. Ellen and travels over the Middlebury Gap, up Notch Road and into Bristol finishing at the summit of the Appalachian Gap. This is a 65-mile loop which is what most racers will ride, but two fields will race an additional 39-mile loop for a total of 103 miles of racing which takes these two groups over Bethel Mountain Road and around through Stockbridge before rejoining the regular course heading up the Middlebury Gap. This is the stage that every climber dreams of winning with the crowds at the top of the App Gap cheering them to victory. Spectators are encouraged to come chalk the road and cheer the racers on. Shuttle buses will bring spectators from the Mad River Glen parking area to the summit starting at 10 a.m. and Route17 is closed in both directions from 10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Monday brings the Criterium, which takes place in downtown Burlington. A Criterium consists of a loop of less then 1 mile that is raced for multiple laps. The Burlington Criterium is 1K (0.61 miles) around the closed streets of downtown Burlington. The race starts on Main Street by the Flynn and races on Church Street, College Street, St. Paul Street, Bank Street and Pine Street. Racers will race between 25 and 50 laps. These races are done at nearly top speed with the Pro/1 men completing the 31 miles in about an hour! The Burlington course is one of the most fun to ride in the country with six turns including both left and right. It is like a NASCAR race with 100-plus racers fighting for position. To make it even more entertaining there are sprints on certain laps for prize money and points in the race. This ups the speed even further. Come see the action and cheer the racers starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m.
ROAD CLOSURES DURING THE WEEKEND
There will be several road closures to help make the GMSR as safe as possible. The first will be on Friday on Flat Iron Road starting at 8 a.m. and reopening once the race is completed. The second closure is of Route 17 both east and west from 10:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.