The nation's pre-eminent cycling event -- the Tour du Pont -- will pass through Carroll County during one of its 11 stages later this year.
Carroll will be part of Stage 2, a 130-mile road race leg that will start in Newark, Del., and end in Columbia, Howard County. That stage will be run on May 11.
The exact route is not yet known, said Michael Marqua, director of the Office of Sports Promotion in the state Department of Employment and Economic Development.
He said potential routes must be cleared with both the State Highway Administration and the Maryland State Police. Those agencies will, in turn, work with state agencies to avoid heavy traffic periods and road construction.
He said the riderslikely would enter Carroll from Baltimore County in the Hampstead area and the route will exit from Carroll into the Lisbon area of Howard County and on to Columbia.
Possible routes would include Route 482 from Hampstead to Route 27 and on to Westminster. From there, riders could travel down either Route 27 or over to Route 97 to head intoSouth Carroll, or riders could leave the county along Woodbine Road.
Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown said that while the presence of the race in Westminster could be beneficial, he said he is concerned about the late planning of the route. He did not know the race would be in Carroll until contacted by a reporter last night.
Marqua said race officials were trying yesterday to contact local officials along the route, and said the lateness in planning was caused by a last-minute route change.
The race, known as the Tour de Trump during its first two years, traditionally had a stop in Baltimore, but a change in dates this year caused a conflict with Preakness Week events.
Howard County expressed interest in hosting a stop along the race, so organizers had to scramble to rework the route, Marqua said.
He added that David Williams, the race director, usually opts for the most rural routes available.
Modeled after the internationally famous Tour de France, the Tour du Pont will be covered extensively ontelevision by both CBS and ESPN. Marqua said some towns have celebrations while spectators line the route.
He noted, for example, thatPort Deposit in Cecil County has a festival when the race passes through, complete with a high school band.
Brown said he would like to do the same in Westminster, it something can be organized in the next six weeks.
"When Cycle Across Maryland came here (two summers ago), we put on a pretty nice affair," he said.
Noting the Europeanflavor of bike racing, L. A. White of White's Bicycles in Westminster said, "If the county could do something like that here, it could really take off."
And if fans don't get enough of the riders on May 11, they can go just a few miles past Taneytown in Emmitsburg, Frederick County, to see them on the Winchester, Va.-to-Harrisburg, Pa., leg May 17. The Tour de Trump passed that close to Carroll in its firstrun two years ago.