Among the professional cyclists competing in this weekend's Germain.com Tour de Grandview Cycling Classic will be last year's overall men's winner, Kirk Albers.

Among the professional cyclists competing in this weekend's Germain.com Tour de Grandview Cycling Classic will be last year's overall men's winner, Kirk Albers.

Albers is an Upper Arlington resident, which made winning the local event especially satisfying, he said.

"It was nice to win the Grandview race," Albers said. "It's something I'd wanted to do for a long time. You always want to do well in a race that's held in your community."

Albers won both the Saturday and Sunday races in 2007. It was the 11th time he had participated in the Tour de Grandview.

"It's always fun to have your family and friends out there supporting you at the race," Albers said. "But maybe there's a little more pressure, because people expect you to do better" at a local race.

He has been a competitive rider off and on since 1985.

"I got started in high school," Albers said. "I just found I had a passion for bikes. Growing up in the '70s and '80s, it seemed more kids rode bikes back then."

As a youngster, he was interested in seeing how fast he could make his bicycle go, he said.

As a professional cyclist, "I enjoy the competitive atmosphere of racing," Albers said. "I think that's what grabs most riders."

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of bicycle racing, he said, is that the strongest rider doesn't necessarily win the race.

"You have to have a knowledge of your competitors and make the right tactical decisions," Albers said. "And it's important never to give up.

"I just like to compete more than anything and try to improve," he said. "Winning is almost secondary, although it's always nice to win a race."

Albers has already finished first in one race this year and won a total of nine races in 2007.

He is in his second year as part of the Texas Roadhouse team.

A cycling team is not dissimilar to a football or baseball team, Albers said. Each rider has a role to play for the overall good of the team. Some riders have the task of helping give other teammates the opportunity to win the race.

"Not everyone is actually trying to win the race themselves," Albers said. "It's like a football team. Not everybody can be the quarterback."

He competes in about 50 races a year, mostly in the Midwest. Typically, Albers is entered in a race three out of every four weeks.

"It can be grueling, but it's not as punishing as impact sports," he said.

The Tour de Grandview course is challenging, especially the second day, when the route includes hilly portions of Grandview, Albers said.

"The Saturday race is usually a lot faster and favors the guy with a better finishing kick," he said. "Sunday's race is a test of strength and endurance. The hills take a lot out of you."

The Tour de Grandview is one of the best cycling events in the country, Albers said.

"The course is great, but it's also because there is such a great amount of community support behind it," he said. "That's something the riders recognize and appreciate about this race."

afroman@thisweeknews.com