Carson Valley Classic begins today

Top bicycle racers from around Northern Nevada and California will pedal for cash and prizes starting this morning when the Carson Valley Classic gets under way.

Alta Alpina Cycling Club and Big Daddy's Bicycles and Fitness are co-sponsoring the two-day event, which is being held in conjunction with the U.S. Cycling Federation District Championships for the first time. Up to 600 riders are expected each day, according to Keith Hart, owner of Big Daddy's.

Racing begins this morning with a criterium on the streets of downtown Minden. The race's 0.7-mile loop course will be set up around Minden Park, with the junior race set to go off at 8 a.m.

"This is a good chance to see some exciting racing," Hart said. "These will be the top domestic riders on the West Coast, the best guys who aren't over in Europe right now."

Today's featured race will be the Senior 1/2 Pro race, which is scheduled for 2:10 p.m.

On Sunday, riders will tackle the Diamond Valley Road Race, which features a 12.8-mile loop that offers 1,000 feet of elevation gain on each lap.

Interest in cycling generated by Lance Armstrong's Tour de France triumph this month should only add to the excitement of the Carson Valley Classic.

"Definitely, I have seen a difference in the shop already," Hart said. "We're seeing a lot of people on the Lance bandwagon. They're riders of all levels, too, from guys who just want to go out and cruise for exercise, to the kids on BMX bikes."

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