The first stage of the 18th annual North Star Grand Prix, a weeklong series of professional bicycle races held across Minnesota, will move to St. Paul’s Grand Avenue June 14.

Hundreds of cyclists and thousands of racing fans will hit the nearly mile-long loop for evening races and related activities, including a Tour de Kids, an expo featuring bike, health and wellness vendors and food and beverage stands.

Race Director Brendon Hale said moving the St. Paul race from the Lowertown area, where it has been held for several years, to Grand Avenue is an attempt to give the race more of a neighborhood feel.

“We’re looking forward to our new St. Paul venue with excitement,” Hale said.

But moving the race into a central business district and adjacent residential area also means blocking off streets for several hours. Connie DeLage, executive director of the Grand Avenue Business Association, said her organization is taking a bit of a “wait and see” approach to whether the move will be a positive development.

“We are not officially a partner with them,” she said. “It’s going to happen, so we’re going to see how it goes.”

The association likes the idea of exposing race fans to Grand Avenue, DeLage said.

“We are looking forward to them having a successful event,” she said.

Racing teams from across the country and from as far away as New Zealand and Latin America will compete in the event, starting with morning time trials along East River Road in Minneapolis on June 14, then Grand Avenue races that evening. Other races will be held in Cannon Falls, Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood, North Mankato and Stillwater.

Spectators are expected to be in the Grand Avenue area for at least five hours.

“We have had great discussions with the Grand Avenue Business Association and with the Summit Hill Neighborhood Association as well, to discuss our fans, the nature of the event,” Hale said.

“We hope we can develop into a really good community partner and host this event with them for many years.”