A blend of cycling, eats, treats and tunes return April 8-9 for the annual spring street party in Anniston, the Noble Street Festival and Sunny King Criterium. The weekend will feature two days of amateur and professional bicycle racing, called the Alabama Cycling Classic. The 15th annual Sunny King Criterium will be held alongside the Noble Street Festival on Saturday, and the McClellan Road Race will be held on Sunday. This is the only professional cycling event in Alabama that is part of USA Cycling’s Professional Road Tour.

“The Sunny King Criterium is know nationwide as the ‘king of all crits’, for the incredible southern hospitality and huge community support. The addition of a second day of racing and designation as a Pro Road Tour weekend has helped attract the best male and female athletes for top-level racing. This event continues as the ‘king’, thanks to the support from longtime sponsors Sunny King Automotive, and services from the City of Anniston and Calhoun County,” added Marilyn Cullinane, who returns as race director for a fourth year. Her event management company, Start Smart Cycling, operates both races for the Alabama Cycling Classic.

The Alabama Cycling Classic kicks off April 8 with 21 categorized races for a variety of age groups and skill levels, from a one-lap youth contest (ages 3-8) to one-hour races for professional women and men. The one-kilometer, four-turn course will begin and end at E. 11th Street near Noble Street.

For a third year, the McClellan Road Race will offer pro-only races that include multiple laps over Bains Gap, with pitches exceeding 17 percent. The women’s road race will be 69 miles and the men’s 91 miles, both featuring a new start/finish in the Historic Buckner District, known for its circular, tree-lined park surrounding homes once used for U.S. Army officers. The total prize purse for the Alabama Cycling Classic will be $54,000, with equal payouts for women and men.

Top professional cycling teams invited for April races include Holowesko-Citadel, ISC Corp p/b SmartChoice MRI, Rally Cycling, Team Illuminate and UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling. Holowesko-Citadel swept both days of pro men’s racing in Anniston last year, Travis McCabe winning the criterium and Oscar Clark taking the road race. Both are expected to return, this year with McCabe racing for a new team, UnitedHealthcare. On the women’s side, the crit was won by Samantha Schneider, who also took the 2016 individual Pro Road Tour title. She is expected to defend her crit win, supported by her sister Skylar, riding for Team Illuminate.

The Noble Street Festival, which is held in conjunction with the Sunny King Criterium, provides food and festivities to complement the bicycle races on Saturday. Spectators will find activities for the entire family from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. along Noble Street. Returning for 2017 will be the “Taste on Noble”, Mellow Mushroom Mad Dash, Scion Kidzone, and the YMCA Kidz Bicycle Race. A lineup for participating restaurants will be announced in March. Applications for vendors, including arts/crafts vendors, will be accepted until Monday, April 3, 2017.

A portion of proceeds from all bicycle race registration fees will be donated again to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life chapter of Calhoun County. In the 10-plus years this beneficiary has been involved with the cycling weekend, more than $100,000 has been raised for cancer research and patient support. Admission for spectators is free for all bicycle races, making it one of the most unique professional sporting events in the country. Registration is open for racers ranging in price from $10 for juniors to $50 for pros. Click here to register now.

For information about race registration, calendar of events and downtown activities, visit the Alabama Cycling Classic website (www.annistoncycling.com). Follow the Alabama Cycling Classic on Facebook (AlabamaCyclingClassic) and Twitter (@SunnyKingCrit #AnnistonCycling). Follow the Noble Street Festival on Facebook (NobleStreetFestival). Follow the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour on Twitter (@USAProRoad).

About Alabama Cycling Classic

The Sunny King Criterium began in 2002 as Anniston’s signature cycling event for professional and amateur male and female cyclists from around the globe. The start/finish line for the race is located at 11th and Noble streets in downtown Anniston, with 21 categorized races for adults and juniors. Two categorized road races for professional men and women will be held the following day for the McClellan Road Race. This event features more than 7,000 feet of climbing. It is the second stop on the USA Cycling Professional Road Tour. Admission is free for spectators.  All races are managed by Start Smart Cycling.

About Noble Street Festival

The annual Noble Street Festival comes alive with family-friendly activities to support the Sunny Kind Criterium. Activities in 2017 included “Taste on Noble”, Scion Kidzone, YMCA Kidz Bicycle Races (children pre-K to grade 6), Mellow Mushroom Mad Dash, and more.

About Sunny King

Located in Anniston, Alabama, King Motor Co. has been in business since 1922. Toyota joined the King Motor Co. in 1989, becoming Sunny King Toyota. A longtime supporter of the Sunny King Criterium and the Noble Street Festival, Sunny King Toyota is a 19-time President’s Award Winner, an honor bestowed upon less than 25% of Toyota dealers across the nation. Learn more: www.sunnyking.com.

About Start Smart Cycling

Start Smart Cycling, LLC (SSC) provides professional management and consultation for all areas of cycling and community-based events. SSC is able to assist in pre-production, onsite event management and post event follow-up. Follow on the web (startsmartcycling.com), on Facebook (StartSmartCycling), and on Twitter (Start_SmartBike).