First amateur cycling festival in Asia held in Changwon

The Changwon World Criterium 2011 was held on Oct. 22 from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Jungang Daero, or the main street of the city center, as part of the World Bike Festival 2011.

This was the first time that an Asian city has hosted an evening hours criterium, a bike race held on a short course, usually less than 5 km,  often running on closed-off city center streets.

▲ Spectators watch cyclists competing in the Changwon World Criterium 2011, the first amateur cyclist club contest in Asia, on Jungang Daero, or the main road, of the city on Oct. 22.

The bike festival consisted of an opening ceremony, a bike parade, an amateur cycle race and then the actual event.

Amateur cyclists ran a total of 61.25km, covering 2.45km from the Lotte Mart Intersection to the T-junction in front of the headquarters of the Changwon Industrial Complex 25 times. Winners were decided in for every lap and for total.

The Criterium race is held every two events ― one is the Korea Criterium Amateur Championships where domestic amateur cyclists compete and another is World Criterium Amateur Championships where winners of the annual Tour de Korea and world class amateurs from abroad compete.

Those who are qualified from the required records at both events are given right to take part in the Tour de Korea 2012 in the club division to be hosted by the Seoul Olympic Sports Promotion Foundation next April. This is the first Criterium event a local government has ever hosted.

All the required entries of 200 cyclists signed up in one week after starting receiving applications for the Korea Criterium Amateur Championships and over 110 cyclists from home and abroad, including some 40 from five foreign countries, joined in the World Criterium Amateur Championships, indicating the fever of local club cyclists and foreign players.

Outstanding cyclists were Kim Dong-hwan, the winner in the individual division at the Tour de Korea 2007-2008 and in the group division in 2011, and the American winner Scott Stillwagon in individual division in 2011.

On the day of the race, over 400 seats had been prepared additionally so that spectators could see cyclists up close racing by at speeds of 50-60km per hour. To add to the excitement of the race, a group music festival was held with B-boys and rappers dancing and singing in the background.

“I believe that the events were a good chance for spectators and families to enjoy the Criterium cycling race, held first ever in an Asian city during evening hours, including a colorful performances,” said a city official.

The event was recorded by KBS-N and also by a Japanese cycling TV station, Cyclo Imaju.

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