About a mile-long loop of streets in downtown Basking Ridge became part of the international bike racing circuit on Thursday evening, as about 117 professional cyclists from around the world sped 44 times around the closed course before a winner from Germany crossed the finish line.
On an evening when the heat finally had broken, a relatively sparse crowd gathered to cheer on the athletes, some of whom had just participated in the better-known Tour de France bike race.
Nevertheless, the Base Camp International Bike Race was the fifth annual international cycling competition to be held in Basking Ridge, said Greg Cordasco, co-owner of Liberty Cycle at 107 S. Maple Ave.
The winner of the race would win $15,000, Steve St. Clair, in charge of marketing for the event, said earlier this week.
As it was last year for the first time, the event again was be listed on the National Racing Calendar of bike races, St. Clair said on Saturday. The NRC listing attracts the very best pro cyclists from all over the world, particularly the European circuit, he said.
"It's great in Basking Ridge," said the runner-up in the race, Hilton Clark of Australia before he posed for photos with the top three cyclists in the contest, including Robert Forster of Germany as first-place winner, and Jan Kirsipuu of Estonia in third place.
The bike race — in which cyclists sped along the route at about 40 miles per hour on flatter sections of the criterion course — also attracted some local cyclists to watch what Cordasco called some of the best cyclists in the world.
Gary Nelson of Basking Ridge rode his own bike from another section of town to see the race, which he said he has attended multiple times. "This is great," he said. Nelson said he enjoys seeing bike racers able to achieve such a high level of performance. Although the streets were lined, and spectators wandered around to stop in local restaurants, Nelson said he would have hoped to have seen more people at the event.