First Sagan Fondo: Dirt Edition with world-class talent hits Truckee this weekend | SierraSun.com

First Sagan Fondo: Dirt Edition with world-class talent hits Truckee this weekend

In the world of cycling there are few names that resonate like Peter Sagan.

The Slovakia native is considered one of the sport's greatest talents, having earned accolades in a multitude of disciplines ranging from mountain biking to road racing.

This weekend Sagan will lead a peloton of more than 500 professionals and amateurs in the inaugural Sagan Fondo: Truckee Dirt Edition.

"I'm thrilled," said Carlos Perez, founder of the event's producer Bike Monkey. "When we came to Truckee we were received with open arms. Coming to the town with a shoulder season event obviously is good for tourism, but it's also a beautiful time of year with good weather this weekend. We're expecting a phenomenal ride, people's breaths are going to be taken away."

“Peter Sagan could have chosen anywhere in the world to host his kickoff Gran Fondo and he chose Truckee.”

— Carlos Perez, Bike Monkey founder/event organizer

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The race features distances of 68 miles, 54 miles, and 23 miles on a route that will take riders along California State Route 267 to Prosser Dam Road, and then past Boca Reservoir, Stampede Reservoir, toward Loyalton, before heading back to the finish at Riverview Sports Park in Truckee.

"I love California and am never there long enough. My time in the Tour of California is some of the best of my racing season," Sagan said in a statement. "I try to come here as often as I can. Not only does California provide some of the best roads and most beautiful scenery in the world, the warmth and friendliness of its people are second to none. I really feel at home whenever I'm there. That's why, together with Bike Monkey, I wanted to host an on-bike party in one of my favorite parts of the world."

Sagan could have chosen nearly any location to host his inaugural race, organizers said, but the allure of holding the dirt portion of the Sagan Fondo in Truckee proved too strong. The road edition will be held Nov. 1-3 at a city yet to be announced, according to the series' website.

"We were looking at Auburn, we were looking at Carson, we were looking at Redding, but the real draw to Truckee is — I come here a lot — and it's just super cool … there are so many different things to do here that it has a lot of marketability long term," Perez said. "There's a lot we can do with it."

Sagan will bring several members of his professional team, Bora-Hansgohe, Daniel Oss, Juraj Sagan, Michael Kolar, Maciej Bodnar to race in the inaugural event. The crew will also spend time training for the May 13-19 Amgen Tour of California, which has a stage through South Lake Tahoe. Sagan, dubbed the "King of California" by the event's organizers, has 16 stage wins in his career.

"It was the race that brought them all here," said Perez on team Bora-Hansgohe training in the Tahoe area. "Peter choosing Truckee, he pulled his whole team up here to train at elevation."

The festivities began on Thursday with a fundraising gala dinner, benefiting Adventure Risk Challenge, a nonprofit whose mission is "to empower undeserved youth through integrated literacy and wilderness experiences."

Friday will feature a VIP ride with Sagan as well as a private dinner with the renowned cyclist.

The Sagan Fondo will kickoff the following day with a mass start at 8 a.m. at River View Sports Park. An awards ceremony will be at 2:30 p.m., with festivities running until 5:30 p.m.

Other professionals in attendance and competing include: winter and summer Olympic cyclist and skier Katerina Nash, Canadian cross-country Olympian Geoff Kabush, and one of America's greatest road racers Levi Leipheimer. Local winter sport legends, Marco Sullivan, Jonny Moseley, and JT Holmes are also expected to be in attendance during the weekend's events.

Shoulder season boon

For the Town of Truckee, landing the inaugural Sagan Fondo should make for an economic boost during a time between ski season and the summer months on Lake Tahoe.

The Truckee Tourism Business Improvement District gave $25,000 to the event, according to the district's Brand Communications Director Colleen Dalton, with the hope of establishing a world-class event during Truckee's shoulder season.

"This event, to me, reveals there is so much more to explore," said Dalton. "The valleys and vistas that are just a stone's throw from Truckee, and are very accessible to the whole new trend of gravel bikes."

Dalton said many traditional road cyclists are opting to pedal along gravel roads, avoiding the dangers of heavily trafficked areas.

"(Cyclists have) really converted to these sort of hybrid cycle-cross bikes for the purpose of being more safe and getting off the road," Dalton said. "The trend has been gravel bike for the past few years and I love it. It's just more of a scenic ride, like going backpacking on wheels."

As far as event producer Bike Monkey and Truckee's tourism district, the two entities are viewing the event as a staple in the community for years to come.

"(Perez) really wants this to be a community event, a local event," said Dalton. "And in Truckee, it's another good reason to rub shoulders with world class cyclists."

Perez echoed Dalton's sentiment, stating that Sagan had his choice of multiple venues, but ultimately decided on Truckee.

"The town of Truckee itself and the resident put up with a lot of events that come to the region. Everyone has been very welcoming to us," said Perez. "We're really excited to immerse ourselves in the community … Peter Sagan could have chosen anywhere in the world to host his kickoff Gran Fondo and he chose Truckee. That says a lot about this place."

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Truckee Sun. Contact him at jscacco@truckeesun.com.

FUN AT THE FONDO
Truckee Dirt Edition (May 3-5)
TODAY
Morning — VIP Ride with Peter Sagan (VIP option only)
2-7 p.m. — Expo & Packet pickup at Truckee Tahoe Airport (Packet pickup will stay open until 9 p.m.)
Evening — Private dinner with Peter Sagan (VIP option only)

SATURDAY
6:30-7:50 a.m. — Packet pickup at River View Sports Park
8 a.m. — Mass start (all routes)
11 a.m.- 5:30 p.m. — Festival at River View Sports Park. Free and open to the public, with secured bike parking, kids zone, sponsors and local vendor booths
2:30 p.m. — Awards ceremony
5:30 p.m. — Festival closes
5:30-9:30 p.m. — After-party at FiftyFifty Brewing Co. ($3 pints for participants)
Food vendors include EATS Cooking, The Buck Stops Here and Crêpes Heart.