Kyle Rancourt of Lewiston rides the Lewiston Auburn Criterium course in downtown Lewiston on Tuesday. Rancourt will compete in the Men’s Pro/1/2/3 race that will zip by the Centreville parking garage mural every 90 seconds or so for 40 laps. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Lower Lisbon Street in downtown Lewiston will be abuzz with top cyclists from across New England on Sunday.

The Lewiston Auburn Criterium has been held in either Auburn or Lewiston for the past 20 years and is back on Lisbon Street after racing around Kennedy Park for the past few summers.

“Lots of strategy, lots of body contact and lots of drafting” is how race promoter John Grenier describes a criterium bike race, in which cyclists will fly around the 1-kilometer course at 26 mph.

“Racers go by every 90 seconds so the crowd will never get bored,” Grenier said of the spectator-friendly event. “It’s kind of like a short track NASCAR race.”

Dufresne Plaza will serve as base camp, where racers will gather for the starts of nine separate races beginning at 9:30 a.m. Racing will get more intense in the afternoon as the women’s professional race starts at 1:35 p.m. and the men’s pro race at 2:40 p.m.

Lewiston’s Kyle Rancourt is among the local cyclists who will compete Sunday.

Rancourt, 34, entered his first bike race, the Dick Williamson Time Trial in Poland, in 2011 and won the three-day Killington Stage Race in Vermont in 2014.

An injury caused Rancourt to step back from bike racing and focus more on triathlons, but his passion has pushed forward.

“I’m ready to get back on the road,” he said. “It’s gonna be tough. A crit is the most intense type of race that you can do. Speeds are going to be really high.”

Other locals expected to compete Sunday are Scott White of Lisbon, Laura Campbell of Auburn, Don Seib of Bryant Pond, Dominic Giampaolo of Lewiston, John Grenier of Lewiston and Max Mershimer of South Paris. Explosive sprinter Neal Coughlin of Lewiston will not be racing Sunday.

Grenier said it will take about 40 volunteers to pull off the event. Keeping the course that stretches along lower Lisbon and Canal streets free of vehicle traffic and pedestrians is not easy. Grenier said many of his volunteers come from the Maine Cycling Club and the Auburn-Lewiston Rotary Club, which sponsors the race.

Grenier said proceeds will benefit Maine Adaptive Sports. “The goal is to donate $5,000 to them,” he said.

“If the weather is good, we should have a good crowd,” he said. “The race will happen rain or shine — anything short of a hurricane.”

Kyle Rancourt of Lewiston plans to race in the Lewiston Auburn Criterium cycling event Sunday.” A crit is the most intense type of race that you can do,” he said. “Speeds are going to be really high.” Daryn Slover/Sun Journal






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