One of the world’s most well-known competitive cycling tours will roll off the starting line Thursday in Kenosha.
That would be the Tour of America’s Dairyland, if you hadn’t guessed.
The Tour’s 11th edition will meander through southern Wisconsin over 11 days. Each stage consists of multiple criterium (closed course) bike races open to a range of skill and age levels. There is no cost to spectators.
And if free entertainment doesn’t entice you to come watch, maybe the chance to stand within reaching distance of dozens of riders as they whiz past at over 30 mph will.
“We like to refer to crit racing as NASCAR on two wheels,” said Bill Koch, the Tour of America’s Dairyland’s executive director and one of the series’ co-founders.
“When you get that mass of riders going by, it lifts your hair. It’s pretty exhilarating to stand there and watch that.”
From Kenosha, the Tour will stop in East Troy, Grafton, Waukesha and West Bend before arriving in Janesville next Tuesday for the second Town Square Gran Prix—an event organizers said will feature a record-setting prime pot.
The Tour will then turn back east, passing through Muskego, Shorewood and Bay View before the Cafe Hollander Downer Classic on Milwaukee’s East Side on June 29. The Tour concludes June 30 in Wauwatosa.
There is one change to the schedule from last year: Muskego will host the seventh stage, replacing Port Washington.
While there is still plenty to be done in the final days before Thursday’s first stage, Koch said that’s “just the nature of the beast.” Planning the Tour of America’s Dairyland is a year-round project, and the fruits of those labors will be realized over the next few weeks.
“The thing that gets you stoked is the activity on social media,” Koch said. “There are teams and riders and communities that are doing their thing.”
Koch said about 1,000 riders were registered for the Tour as of Monday afternoon. He expects that number to rise over the next few days.
Australian Rebecca Wiasak (Fearless Femme Racing) is back in pursuit of her third straight title in the women’s pro division. She is the two-time reigning Australian Criterium national champion, and will have the backing of three teammates during the Tour of America’s Dairyland.
Henning Bommel (Team Brandenburg) of Germany is the top returning pro in the men’s field. He finished fourth, 61 points behind champion Luke Mudgway, in 2018.
Riders from Australia, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand and the Dominican Republic will compete on the Tour, according to registration lists provided to The Gazette.
One team, Velofit Australia, traveled from Perth, on Australia’s west coast. Those riders will have traveled almost 11,000 miles to reach Wisconsin.
“We’ve had a growing contingent from Australia,” Koch said. “They raise a pretty good crop of track racers.”