Professional cyclists race in the Gateway Cup in St. Louis.

The Gateway Cup Zips Through St. Louis Neighborhoods Over Labor Day Weekend

Wednesday August 16, 2023

By Rachel Huffman

The Bommarito Audi Gateway Cup is the real deal. Presented by Big Shark Bicycle Co. over Labor Day weekend, it’s the top cycling event in Missouri.

“The quality of the competition, the relevance of the races – in many ways, the Gateway Cup is one of the best cycling events in North America,” Mike Weiss, owner of Big Shark Bicycle Co., says. “Like the Missouri River, the Gateway Cup started as a trickle, with a few grassroots events that were eventually cobbled together to create a professionally sanctioned cup with national – even international – attention.”

All four days of the Gateway Cup are marked on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar, which emphasizes the magnitude of the event. Nine races take place every day, beginning with novices and ending with experts.

The men’s and women’s professional races feature hundreds of the top national and international cyclists. This year, keep an eye out for Danny Summerhill and Alfredo Rodriguez, the number one and number two ranked rider in the American Criterium Cup series, respectively.

One of the leaders on the women’s side, Marlies Mejias Garcia, a Cuban cyclist, is also registered for the Gateway Cup, as is Ashley Weaver, a St. Louis native.

“Instead of going to Europe, a lot of Central American and South American cyclists are coming to the U.S. to race,” Weiss says. “So, it’s been a very competitive year, and the Gateway Cup – the final event in the series – won’t be any different.”

No matter what races you attend, the cyclists will put on a show as they zip around four unique St. Louis neighborhoods: Lafayette Square, Francis Park, The Hill and Benton Park.

“We bring the stadium to the neighborhoods instead of the neighbors to the stadium,” Weiss says. “These neighborhoods don’t need us to make them look good, but we want to share them with spectators and use them to tell the story of St. Louis.”

The full tilt races showcase “criterium format” racing on one-mile laps, where cyclists average speeds of 30 miles per hour. The Americanized style of racing appeals to both athletes and spectators as the peloton speeds by the crowd every few minutes, holding lines only inches apart from one another. Watching the race develop lap after lap, you can hear commentators announce race strategy as the excitement builds.

The thrilling races typically conclude with a sprint to the finish line.

“The Gateway Cup is a great excuse to visit St. Louis,” Weiss says. “You can experience professional cycling while exploring some of the best areas of the city. LHM [Lodging Hospitality Management] has also created affordable packages at five of its properties, [including St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, The Cheshire, Marriott St. Louis West and DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel St. Louis - Chesterfield].”

Feeling inspired to tool around town on two wheels? Big Shark Bicycle Co. rents road bikes, mountain bikes and hybrid bikes at four area locations. From the shop at City Foundry STL, pedal east to the Gateway Arch or west to Forest Park. Both journeys are less than four miles!