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Kern’s Bicycle Race Sunday

With a soupcon of hyperbole, race director Alex Baum calls the bicycle competition “the American equivalent of a one-day Tour de France.” In the absence of Alps or even Pyrenees, Baum exaggerates somewhat; nevertheless, Sunday’s Kern’s Classic International Cycling Road race is hardly a pedal in the park.

Stretching 150 kilometers (more than 93 miles) from Pepperdine University in Malibu to Griffith Park (where a number of events precede and follow the competition), the race chugs through the Santa Monica Mountains and cruises down the wilderness of Ventura Boulevard on a course designed to separate the hardy from the not-so-hardy. Indeed, it is one of the few one-day road races in North America sanctioned by the United States Cycling Federation, and consequently it attracts top racers from this country as well as from France, Mexico and a number of other international powers.

At Griffith, meanwhile, an 8 a.m. 5-kilometer run and a “Kids’ Fun Run” will be held at Travel Town; criterium races over a 1.7-mile course (start and finish at Park Center) are on tap for cyclists of various categories, as is a celebrity criterium race, set for 2 p.m.; a health-and-fitness “comprehensive exposition” is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Park Center, and a continuous health-and-fitness “stage extravaganza” (aerobics, fashions, music) will be led by Suzi Chaffee, actress and former Olympic skier.

Centerpiece, however, is the 8 a.m. road race, with a $15,000 purse and prizes for “king of the mountain” stages (“king” is he who reaches each of the four toughest climbs first).

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Past and present Olympians expected to compete include Davis Phinney, Thurlow Rogers, Alexi Grewal, Roy Knickman, David Brinton, Mexico’s Youskimatz brothers and France’s Laurent Thierry.


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