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Bissell newcomer takes first at Grand Cycling Classic

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Racers in The Grand Cycling Classic had 80-degreeweather, uneven bricks and wind to battle with as well as each other.

Racers in The Grand Cycling Classic had 80-degreeweather, uneven bricks and wind to battle with as well as each other. /Matthew Russell

The lengthy gap between Bissell Pro Cycling’s recent signee, 19-year-old Patrick Bevin, and the rest of the peloton had some spectators wondering if he was lagging behind. Not so. The winner of the men’s pro race at the Grand Cycling Classic, held Saturday, July 10, found victory with a seemingly effortless cadence, impressing team owner Mark Bissell and proving to his seven teammates he had the skills needed to lead.

In second place was Bernie Sulzberger, of the Fly V Australia team, while Hilton Clarke, of UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis came in third. Fourty-four cyclists participated in the men’s pro race. Jo Kiesanowski, of the Tibco-To The Top team, took first in the women’s race, while Catherine Cheatley, of Colavita-Baci, took second and Laura Van Gilder, of Mellow Mushroom, took third.

Three senior men’s races, a senior women’s race, a 40 and over race and a kids’ race were also held prior to the final race.

The race layout had six corners and three brick sections, which not all the cyclists were thrilled to ride on. Attendance was also low for a National Racing Calendar event in both the men’s and women’s races, said Brad White, of the UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxis team. While the Bissell team had eight participants in the men’s pro race, other teams had as little as one.

“I’d like to see a race like this get more exposure and each pro team get their eight registered guys out there,” White said. “Some of the teams just didn’t think this race was a big deal.”

This marked the fourth year for the Grand Cycling Classic in Grand Rapids and the second time the event has changed sponsorship hands. Starting under the sponsorship of Priority Health and then Meijer last year, Herman Miller kept the race afloat in 2010. This uncertainty is often quelled by die-hard supporters of cycling races and city officials who may promise the event in years to come but economic woes can’t always be overcome and sometimes the prize money or even the entire race is sacrificed, White said.

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