SIX types of terrain, 150 cyclists, one scenic public location.

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SIX types of terrain, 150 cyclists, one scenic public location.

The scene is set for Sunday when competitive and recreational cyclists will converge on The Forks for the 2013 Manitoba Cyclocross Championships.

Cyclocross racers Chris Huebner (left), Daniel Enns and John Paul Peters race through a sandy spot at The Forks.

MELISSA TAIT / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Cyclocross racers Chris Huebner (left), Daniel Enns and John Paul Peters race through a sandy spot at The Forks.

Two open recreational races at 12:30 and 1 p.m. will be followed by the provincial championships at 2 p.m. and 3:15 p.m., which will include multiple agegroup titles.

Cyclocross is a sport that combines road-racing speed with the varied terrain of mountain biking. There will be grass, gravel, pavement, cobblestone, dirt and sand as well as obstacles on the course such as stairs and barriers where cyclists will have to carry their bikes while running and jumping.

"My approach to promoting races is you bring the races to where the people already are. That’s the beauty of The Forks, it’s where Winnipeg meets," said Chris Huebner, the defending men’s 40-plus provincial champion. He is the event co-organizer with Ian Hall who will race in the men’s 30-plus division.

"This cyclocross course will give racers some steep climbs and technical challenges, it will be very fast, it’s wide open, some good chunks of pavement where you can get some speed up so it will be fun to watch," said Huebner.

The three-kilometre course looping through The Forks property will take approximately seven minutes for cyclists to cover. Spectators can take in the action everywhere along the course including the rail bridge, the Festival Park area, the Forks Market Plaza, the River Walk, the Oodena Celebration Circle and the terraced levels near the boat launches.

"I’m really excited about the area by the river and the levels where there’s that sand area right now (the "beach"). There will be some unique zig-zagging back and forth for spectators to see a whole bunch of racers in a concentrated area," said Huebner.

"One of the great things about this venue is there’s so many good spectator locations, including going up in the tower (of The Forks Market)."

Two well-known Winnipeg cyclists racing in the event are national team member and professional cyclist Leah Kirchmann and provincial team member Anna Schappert. Kirchmann competed in the 2013 UCI Road World Championships in Toscana, Italy, last month while Schappert won silver in the mountain bike relay at the 2013 Canada Games in August.

It’s been nearly two decades since a high-profile cycling event has been held in the downtown area. Cycling enthusiasts will remember the Cobblestone Classic (1986-1994), a national road racing event that was held in the Exchange District which attracted top racers from across North America.

Sunday’s race will also be a test event, as Huebner and Hall have submitted a bid for the Manitoba Cycling Association to host the 2014 and 2015 Canadian Cyclocross Championships at The Forks.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPAshleyPrest