The 19th Green Mountain Stage Race starts this Friday, August 30. The event had many early registrants this year, but more racers were expected to sign up in the final days. The GMSR brings over 600 to 750 racers along with their family members, friends and coaches to the Mad River Valley 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 UK, Caribbean and this year a pro team is making the trip from Columbia.
The GMSR will have four stages this year with two of them in the Mad River Valley. 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 down hills 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 is the Robert Armstrong Perry Memorial Stage 2 Circuit Race, which will take place in Randolph starting at the high school and finishing at Ayer’s Brook Goat Dairy just a short walk or shuttle bus from the school on Route 12. This course is relatively flat for Vermont with racers competing on a 37-mile loop. Most fields will ride two laps for 74 miles of racing, but the Pro and Category 2 men will race three laps for 111 miles. There are sprints at the finish line each lap as well as a mid-lap sprint. There is also a King/Queen of the Mountains climbing sprints on each lap in the Brookfield Gulf.
Sunday is the Cutaway 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 the 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 18-mile loop this year climbing the lower Lincoln Gap Road and turning onto West Hill Road, Sugarbush Access Road and back to German Flats Road prior to taking on the main 65-mile course. This is a change from last year where racers traveled over Bethel Mountain Road, but the road could not be used this year because of flash flooding damage. This is the stage that all climbers dream 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 Route 17 is closed in both directions from 10:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Monday brings the Burlington Criterium, which takes place in downtown Burlington. A criterium consists of a loop of less than 1 mile that is raced for multiple laps. The Burlington Criterium is 1K (0.61 mile) around the closed streets of downtown Burlington. The race starts on Main Street at 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 Crit course is one of the finest and 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.
The awards ceremonies that take place on Friday and Saturday are sponsored this year by Lawson’s Finest Liquids. “We are excited to introduce our cycling guests who love beer to this fantastic local produced and world class product,” said race director Gary Kessler.
The GMSR also hosts a fun kids event during the criterium. There are two kids rides: for 7- to 9-year-olds and 10- to 12-year-olds. The event starts at 12:20 and the kids will ride on the closed streets of Burlington. Entry is free. Online registration is closed, but people can register in person in Burlington on Monday. Do arrive early to get a spot in the event.
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 mid-afternoon. The second closure is of Route 17 above the Mad River Glen parking lot both east and west from 10:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Plan accordingly to avoid delays.