Tour of Lawrence back downtown after hiatus; businesses happy about foot traffic

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LAWRENCE, Kan. -- An annual cycling event is racing its way back into Lawrence.

The Tour of Lawrence was on hiatus, but for the next three days cyclists will be riding across town.

The annual cycling event got off to a wet start, but people around town say they are excited to see it here again and they're glad it's bringing people downtown.

"This year we were actually able to make it bigger, and better, and we have four days of racing," said race director, Cindy Bracker. "We're back downtown for the first time since 2016, and we're really excited about the wonderful support our community has shown us."

Bracker says the event was made possible through a city grant with the money coming through the city's Transient Guest Tax.

"This doesn't happen by chance," Bracker said. "It takes a lot of community support."

"It brings in so many people from out of state, so you've got the tourism, it's a great holiday weekend," cyclist JP Brocket said. " The atmosphere that they've got here is good for families too."

Businesses in the area are glad to see people come downtown, especially on a wet 4th of July holiday. Many businesses were closed to celebrate, but those that were open seemed to be happy about the extra foot traffic.

Shantel Grace is a partner at Luckyberry Kitchen & Cocktails that just reopened after closing to renovate and add a kitchen. She says events can be complicated due to road closures, but altogether the events are good for the community.

"A lot of us downtown sometimes have mixed feelings," Grace said. "When streets get closed down it sometimes effects our businesses. But then there's the other side of it, that it brings people to town who come back again afterwards. So, I really celebrate these events. I love looking out the window and seeing all the cyclists and knowing there's an opportunity for us to engage with them."

Derek Long is one of the managers at The Third Planet. They sell textiles, crystals, plants, incense, jewelry and a number of other gifts. He says with the rain and national holiday, the amount of customers they would have is generally lower than normal, but they are seeing more customers due to the race.

"It brings the community together in a central area. I feel like if you had to pick one area of Lawrence that was an essential area besides campus it would definitely be downtown Lawrence," he said.

Bracker says four days of racing are four days they have the chance to show people what Lawrence is all about. She says they have riders coming from across the US, and as far as New Zealand.

"I was born and raised in Lawrence, so it's really exciting to bring everybody here to my neighborhood, to my hometown, and show them how beautiful Lawrence is, so that's exciting for me," Bracker said.

The even goes through Sunday.

21-year-old professional cyclist, Alex Hoehn, from Johnson County is planning to attend and ride in the event on Saturday at 5pm.

Hoehn recently raced in Amgen's Tour of California. He won the polka dot jersey two days in a row for outstanding uphill climbing each day, and at the end of the competition was honored with the Amgen Breakaway Most Courageous Rider jersey.

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