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Tour de Lititz Weekend bike race expected to attract thousands
By: STEPHEN SEEBER Record Express Staff, Staff Writer
"I propose that we put on a bicycle race here in Lititz," Rich Ruoff, operations manager for Pro Cycling Tour, said in his brief address to borough council Tuesday night.
The plan to debut what is expected to become an annual event, and possibly a premiere race in the region, was unanimously approved.
The weekend of stage racing, to be known as the Tour de Lititz, is now set for April 28-29.
"It’s like the Tour de France, but a lot shorter," Ruoff explained.
Stage one, on Saturday, will be a road race through neighboring townships. Stage two, Sunday morning, is a mountainous time trial near Middle Creek. The final stage, the Lititz Criterium, brings hundreds of cyclists through the borough’s downtown streets for a fast-paced, spectator-friendly finish.
A meeting of local officials was held last week and Ruoff has met all borough requirements. Council President Karen Weibel added that there will be little to no cost for taxpayers, and the event is expected to bring thousands of shoppers and diners to downtown Lititz.
Ruoff described the event as a "festival scenario" that will "run all afternoon" on Sunday. The final race, the fastest of the series, will be the pro men, who will do 45 laps on the short downtown course in a little over an hour. He said there will be announcers, a staging area, an expo and other related activities.
"We might still talk about bringing in a band, just to add to the festival," he said.
In addition to the pros, there will be races for children and various levels of amateurs, men and women. As many as 500 cyclists could be in town for the weekend, and that means even more spectators.
"I would expect in the first year to do 2,500 to 3,000 people just around downtown," Ruoff said. "Our goal is not just for this year. We want to try to make this grow from year to year, and make it one of the bigger amateur/pro-am stage races on the east coast, if not the biggest."
"What kind of pros?" asked council member Todd Fulginiti.
"Lance Armstrong will not be here," Ruoff was quick to point out.
He explained that the race is part of an amateur development branch that attracts regional-based professionals, some of which go on to become world champions, like Marty Nothstein.
"I doubt we’ll be flying teams in from Europe for the first year," he said, "but these are the riders that ultimately end up on Olympic teams."
Will the road to Rio de Janeiro, site of the 2016 Summer Olympics, go through Lititz? We’ll find out this April.
In other borough
? The Tour de Lititz will coincide with another late April event, the 1st Annual Lititz Pretzel Fest. The Kiwanis-sponsored event was approved and will take place April 28 in downtown Lititz.
? Council approved the permit application for the Sauder Easter Egg Run, which is set for April 7.
In conjunction, Lititz Police Chief William Seace reported that a special events staff, which takes the place of the defunct Lititz Fire Police, should be in operation in time for this event. This group of temporary employees will be used for traffic control and may be comprised for fire police officers from neighboring communities. The Lititz Fire Police organization was recently dissolved by the Lititz Fire Company due to the lack of volunteers.
? Other events and special permits approved by borough council Tuesday night include:
Little League Baseball will have use of the Lions Club Park March through June, the Warwick Swarm Rugby Club will use the lower field by the recCenter for practices February through May, a multi-rec center bike race will travel through this area on June 24, and the 11th Annual Lititz Chocolate Walk has been set for Oct. 6.
? Council discussed problems with trash and foul language at the borough’s skate park.
"Kids go down there to skate, and for the most part behave," said Todd Fulginiti, who heads the borough’s sub-committee on parks.
A meeting was recently held to address perceived problems and how to better monitor the scene. The recCenter plans to assist. Also, the gate to the park will be locked during the evening and new hours of operation are being discussed.
Council pointed out that it is a heavily-used, valuable community park, and the use of a summer monitor has been effective.
Upgrades to the park were discussed, but council has decided to hold off on major park improvements for the time being.
? There was also discussion about needed improvements to New Street Park, and all borough parks for that matter. Council will soon be looking for public input and a survey will soon be conducted. Look for more information in upcoming editions of the Record Express.
? Public Works superintendent Gary Rynier reported that the ice rink behind Lititz Springs Park had to be dismantled Tuesday, due to warm weather. After looking at the 15-day forecast, it was determined that there was no chance for a long enough freeze period to have it operational in time for the upcoming Fire & Ice Festival, which opens Feb. 17.
? Jordan Conrad, a senior at Warwick High School, was introduced as the new junior council member.
? Borough expenses for January were $552,115.46. More TOUR DE LITITZ, page A3