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Cyclists kick off Southeast Regional Series

ALBANY, Ga. — Professional and amateur cyclists rolled into downtown Albany Saturday for the SB&T Criterium & Road Race Weekend.

Previously a part of the Rock, Roll & Run Weekend in March, this event is now part of the Southeast Regional Series which takes place over five weekends spanning five months across five states, with Albany serving as the kickoff venue.

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Joe Bellacomo

Amateur cyclists Dale Hair, of Dalton, warms up before his race in the SB&T Bike Criterium & Road Race Saturday in downtown Albany.

“We moved the bike race to this weekend to give it the opportunity to grow on its own, apart from the marathon race. I think we’ve seen that today. “ said Rachelle Beasley, Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau director. “We have a lot of racers in town.” Four hundred riders registered in 10 categories of racing for the weekend event.

A closed course snaked through a mile of downtown making for a challenging race.

“The closed course is more tactical and allows sharper cornering and faster speeds”. said Marilyn Cullinane, Southeast Region Series director. Saturday’s downtown criterium is contrasted by Sunday’s road race set to begin

at 8 a.m. on the corner of

Hwy. 82 and Mossydale Road in Leesburg. Racers will travel between 30-100 miles as they test their endurance. A $10,000 prize purse is at stake for the weekend racers.

Dale Hair, of Dalton, races for Global BMW, of Atlanta, and races in the masters 50 plus category has been cycling for 20 years and is planning on doing well in both races this weekend and hopes to participate in all the races in the season-long series.

After leaving Albany, the Southeast Racing Series travels through Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee, before culminating in Greenville, S.C.

“I knew from a young age I would pursue cycling. It forces you to be focused and stay in the moment” said Andrew Crater, of Greensboro, N.C., racing for Finish-Strong.org, “That’s what draws me to it. That and the natural high your body produces when you’re done with such a hard effort. It feels good. It’s kind of addicting.”