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LIGHTNING PHOTOS: Crit a hit on Seventh Avenue

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More than 250 riders from 15 states raced around a tight circuit in the Historic Seventh Avenue District on Sunday, the second time the USA Cycling event has come to Hendersonville.

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The spandex-clad racers in brightly colored team shirts pedaled around the course, about six-tenths of a mile, in a series of races for different age groups and skill levels. Riders came from as far as Colombia race to compete in final race of the Hincapie Greenville Spring Series. They ranged from 8 years old to 65. The inaugural Seventh Avenue Criterium last July 30 drew 132 riders.

"It's a good number," chief registrar Jason Ward said of this year's total. "It's close to twice the number we had last year. They've enjoyed the course. It's a fast finish."

The start-finish was at Southern Appalachian Brewery. Riders pedaled around the course clock-wise, making right-hand turns onto Lynn, Maple and Seventh and then home on Locust. Racer Marcus Jones described the course as technical and challenging. After turn 2 slowed it down, the pack then had to charge uphill on Maple.

A criterium is a short-course road race on a closed loop where riders compete in 30-, 40- or 60-minute time periods. In most races, riders compete the timed run plus three laps.

"That's when the fast and furious become fast and furious," said Blue Ridge Bicycle Club volunteer Joe Sanders, a marshal at turn 2.