Local cycling fans are in for a treat on Thursday, while the competitors in the Men’s Pro 1/2 race of the Fourth of July Criterium are in for an even bigger challenge.
That’s because Freddie Rodriguez, the reigning men’s pro road national champion, has been announced as a late addition to the field.
Known as “Fast Freddie” for obvious reasons, Rodriguez won the national championship — the fourth of his prolific career — in late May, just weeks after returning to the pro ranks. The 39-year-old races for the Jelly Belly Cycling Team.
“This is huge,” said race director Jason Eiserich. “What is really impressive is that he is still racing at the top international level at the age of 39.”
Rodriguez has competed in the Tour de France, won a stage at the Giro d’Italia and was a member of the U.S. national team from 1992 to 1994. The four-time stage winner of the Tour de Georgia captured his most recent title at the Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Because of that, he will stand out among the pack when he races in the criterium, as he will wear a special stars-and-stripes jersey to indicate he is the reigning national champion.
“Fast Freddie” will be competing in the Men’s Pro 1/2 race, which begins at 1:20 p.m. It is one of 13 races, divided by age group and skill level, set for Thursday on the downtown Davis course. The event kicks off at 7:30 a.m. with the Elite 5 race and concludes with the Elite 3 race, scheduled to begin at 5:10 p.m.