Cyclists are signing up for the big race. Restaurants are readying their menus to feed the spectators.

This year’s Sandy Springs Cycling Challenge has a new flavor.

The annual event will be held May 6, from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are 18 restaurants and nearly 200 riders participating in the festivities. More restaurants are expected to join.

Event organizers are pairing this year’s event with the Sandy Springs Food and Wine Classic, a successor event to the Taste of Sandy Springs, which fizzled a few years ago.

As riders zip around Sandy Springs Circle this year, restaurateurs will tempt the public with local fare. Proceeds will benefit the Sandy Springs police and fire departments.

City Councilwoman Dianne Fries, who is the chairwoman of Sandy Springs Challenge Inc., which puts on the event, said organizers this year decided not to charge restaurants a fee to set up their tents along the race route.

“Hopefully they’ll see the value in it,” Fries said. “I thought it was important this first year to make it as easy as I can on the restaurants because they don’t have anything else to draw from.”

The event is part of USA Crits Speed Week, seven races in Southern cities that end in Sandy Springs’ back yard, bringing Olympic athletes and other nationally recognized competitors. All the while spectators will be trading in tickets, purchased at $1 a piece, for food and wine samples.

Fries hopes the pairing will be more of a draw than prior challenge races.

“The spectators get to eat and the foodies who came for the food will experience the professional criterium,” Fries said. “You bring in another crowd. Plus, I think having the two activities, you’re going to stay longer.”

Councilman Gabriel Sterling said he hopes it will also bring people back for seconds. Sterling, who is vice chairman for the Sandy Springs Challenge, said the event is a chance to show off some of the city’s local culinary talent. Sterling said the point of the race, for him, has been to showcase the city as a bike-friendly community.

“With the Food and Wine Classic I expect people to understand we’re a great restaurant town, too,” Sterling said.

For more information: sandyspringschallenge.org.

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Sandy Springs Food and Wine Classic (Participating restaurants listed as of April 16)

Egg Harbor

Genki Noodles

Jimmy Johns

The Brickery

Chef Rob’s Café

Whole Foods

Meehans

Three Sheets

Gallas Pizza

Fresh 2 Order

B’s Bistro

5 Seasons Brewing Co.

Blue Grotto

Taboo 2 Bistro

Nancy G’s café

Hudson Grill

Evos

Hinton’s Savvy Cellar

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com