Tour de Park City returns Saturday |

Tour de Park City returns Saturday

Christopher Kamrani, The Park Record

After eight years of working in banking and finance, Ben Towery said he was looking for a new challenge.

"I decided to bite off something a little bit bigger," he said.

Towery, who has been promoting bike races for a few years now, took over the Tour de Park City cycling race in March. In his first year running the event, he decided to add a little zest.

The 2011 Tour de Park City, scheduled for July 30, will have three different options for riders, starting with a Gran Fondo format. Gran Fondo is Italian for "big ride" and is a hybrid race designed for professionals and beginner bicyclists. The Gran Fondo is a 170-mile ride that will take racers through Chalk Creek to Evanston, Wyo., and back to Park City along the picturesque Mirror Lake Highway.

"The 170 miles and over Mirror Lake Highway, that’s the essence of the entire event," Towery said. "I believe the course is what should be the draw to riders, while also testing yourself.

"The essence is the fastest time up and down that mountain. That’s what this is, testing yourself in one of the most beautiful and challenging rides around. I think it’s a challenge; it’s enough of a challenge where it’s a must-do on anyone’s list. We’ve put enough time and energy in to make sure the course is stocked."

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A 100-mile Medio Fondo and 50-mile Piccolo Fondo will take intermediate and beginner riders to Wolf Creek Pass.

"Even those will offer just as much of a challenge as the Gran Fondo," Towery said.

Towery said the move to three races all in one day was to build more of a competitive environment encapsulated in one exhilarating and testing day.

"We wanted to give everybody an opportunity to be raced and timed and wear a bib number just like everyone else," he said. "If you want to race, good; if not, just have a good day.

"It’s a hybrid format as a race and a tour. Instead of entering a race category, everybody enters an age group, much like a triathlon or marathon. A majority of the riders in the past have been more casual riders. Why not cater to them and give them an awesome experience?"

Towery said he hopes to build the Tour de Park City to where it becomes a summertime staple in the local cycling community. To him, this event should be anything from a high-class race to a family affair.

"Hopefully people will keep coming back year after year," he said. "Park City is a great place to be."

For more information on this year’s Tour de Park City, visit .