The world of international bike racing will speed through Hampstead and Westminster Saturday.
More than 100 bicyclists, surrounded by U.S. and international media, will streak through Carroll County on the third stage of the Tour DuPont bicycle race.
The Tour DuPont begins Thursday in Wilmington, Del., and will finish 10 days and 1,085 miles later in Greensboro, N.C. Between 15 and 18 teams of seven cyclists each will compete for $200,000 cash. Daily telecasts will be broadcast to 73 countries, more than the Super Bowl.
Stage 3 of the race, which cuts through Carroll County, will begin Saturday in Port Deposit and finish 115 miles later in Hagerstown. Race officials estimate that the cyclists will enter Hampstead between 12:15 p.m. and 12:26 p.m., depending on the speed of the race, and will reach Frederick County an hour later.
Bruce Culver, manager of Cross Country Cycling Center in Woodlawn, said the best spots from which to view the race are along the main streets of Westminster and Hampstead or along inclines on the race route.
"There will be a lot of riders coming through, and by the time they get to Westminster they will be split up," he said. "It should take about a half-hour for riders to come through."
He suggested that spectators could look for viewing spots along Route 77 between Thurmont and Hagerstown, where riders will encounter steep climbs.
Two pairs of state police motorcyclists, spaced 20 and 10 minutes ahead of the racers, will open the route as the race progresses. First Lt. Roy Neigh of the Westminster barracks will represent state police through Carroll County.
"I'll be with their [Tour DuPont] command vehicle, overseeing traffic direction and closing intersecting routes" about two minutes ahead of the lead racers, Lieutenant Neigh said. The race is "very rapid, as you can see, moving at a pretty good clip, from 20 to 25 mph."
During previous races, the lieutenant said, "quite a few sightseers lined the route. Different cities throughout the counties have affairs to celebrate the race."
The route enters Carroll County on Mount Carmel Road in Hampstead. The cyclists will turn right on Black Rock Road and ride past St. John's United Methodist Church to Route 30. They'll turn right on Route 30, pass the Hampstead Fire Company and turn left onto Route 482, Hampstead-Mexico Road. The cyclists will proceed over the hills on Route 482 to Route 27, then turn left and head south into Westminster.
The race course turns right from Route 27, Railroad Avenue in Westminster, onto Main Street. Cyclists will ride over the hill past Western Maryland College and continue westbound, over the rolling landscape, to Uniontown and on to Middleburg Road to reach Frederick County.
Lieutenant Neigh said state and local police will close the following intersections for about 20 minutes as the race reaches those points. They are:
In the Hampstead area, Mount Carmel and Black Rock roads, Black Rock Road at Route 30, Route 30 at 482 and Route 482 at Route 27.
In the Westminster area, Route 27 at Hahn Road, Mall Ring Road, the Route 140 exit ramps and Main Street. Also, Main Street at Bond and John streets, Pennsylvania Avenue, Anchor Street and Uniontown Road.
In the Uniontown area, Uniontown Road at Route 31, Royer Road and Route 194.
Tour DuPont marshals on motorcycles will close other intersections along the route as the race passes by, Lieutenant Neigh said.
"If people see bicycles coming toward them and have gotten beyond marshals or police, please pull over to the side of the road so bicyclists can continue through," he said.
Moving ahead of the race, state police will clear the road. Local police will control crowds.
Hampstead Police Chief John Russell, one of more than 2,000 police needed for the 10-day race, expects more than 100 bikers and a 110-vehicle caravan following them through town.
"I understand there's very little for our police department to do because they carry their own supplies and vehicles with extra parts," he said. Tour DuPont officials post directional markers and staff the route.
Televised coverage of the Tour DuPont will be shown by 39 stations affiliated with CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and cable stations, in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington.