The Green Mountain Stage Race starts on Friday, August 31. Registration was not quite closed as we went to press. The event had many early registrants this year, but more racers were expected to sign up in the final days. The GMSR brings over 600 to 750 racers along with their family members, friends and coaches to the Mad River Valley where they stay for four nights and four days of racing. Overall 1,200 to 1,500 racers and race supporters stream into the area from around the U.S., Canada, the UK and Caribbean.
The GMSR will have four stages this year with two of them in The Valley. Stage 1, The Warren Store individual time trial, will take place starting in Warren Village at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. Time trials are also known as the “race of truth” as each racer must complete the course as fast as they can without the benefit of drafting other racers or using their team for assistance. The GMSR time trial course is challenging with a little bit of everything including climbing, rolling sections and few downhills as well a trip through the “dip” in the last kilometer ending with a very painful 500m gradual climb to the finish from the top of the dip to finish at the Common Road intersection. It favors strong all-around racers. The stage will wrap up in the mid-afternoon.
On Saturday, September 1, the Stage 2 circuit race will take pace in Randolph. This course is relatively flat for Vermont with racers competing on a 37-mile loop. Most fields will ride two laps for 74 miles of racing. There are sprints at the finish line each lap as well as a mid-lap sprint. There is also a King/Queen of the Mountains climbing sprints on each lap.
Sunday, September 2, is the Cutaway Mad River Road Race, which is considered the “Queen Stage” of the event. The race starts at Mt. Ellen and travels over the Middlebury Gap, up the Notch Road and into Bristol finishing at the summit of the Appalachian Gap. This is a 65-mile loop, which is what most racers will ride, but two fields will race an additional 39-mile loop for a total of 103 miles of racing. Which takes these two groups over Bethel Mountain Road and around through Stockbridge before rejoining the regular course heading up the Middlebury Gap. This is the stage that every climber dreams of winning with the crowds at the top of the App Gap cheering them to victory. Spectators are encouraged to come chalk the road and cheer the racers on. Shuttle buses will bring spectators from the Mad River Glen parking area to the summit starting at 10 a.m. and Route 17 is closed in both directions from 10:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Monday, September 3, brings the Burlington Criterium, which takes place in downtown Burlington. A criterium consists of a loop of less than 1 mile that is raced for multiple laps. The Burlington Criterium is 1K (0.61 miles) around the closed streets of downtown Burlington. The race starts on Main Street by the Flynn Theater and races on Church Street, College Street, St. Paul Street, Bank Street and Pine Street. Racers will do between 25 and 50 laps. These races are done at nearly top speed with the Pro/1 men completing the 31 miles in about an hour. The Burlington Criterium course is one of the finest and most fun to ride in the country with six turns including both left and right. It is like a NASCAR race with 100-plus racers fighting for position. To make it even more entertaining, there are sprints on certain laps for prize money and points in the race. This ups the speed even further. Come see the action and cheer the racers starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m.
There will be several road closures to help make the GMSR as safe as possible. The first will be on Friday on Flat Iron Road starting at 8 a.m. and reopening once the race is completed. The second closure is of Route 17, both east and west, from 10:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Please plan accordingly to avoid de