PCT announces Espoir stage race in Pennsylvania

US race promoters, Pro Cycling Tour, organisers of the Philadelphia Commerce Bank Classic, have...

US race promoters, Pro Cycling Tour, organisers of the Philadelphia Commerce Bank Classic, have announced a new race for the 2008 calendar - an all-espoir race called the Tour of Pennsylvania. The race will be a a six day stage race for racers under 25 years of age from around the world.

The race's title sponsors American Eagle Outfitters and Highmark Healthy High 5, have committed to supporting the event, which will have a total of $250,000 awarded in stage prizes, overall general classification and special competitions – making it the world's largest-ever purse for U25 riders.

The USA Cycling-sanctioned tour is being organized by Tour of PA, LLC, a partnership between Pro Cycling Tour, LLC of Norristown, PA and ISM-USA of Pittsburgh. The race will begin with a Prologue Time Trial in Philadelphia and cover approximately 500 miles over six days (June 24-29, 2008), with finish-line events in Valley Forge, Harrisburg, Bedford and the Laurel Highlands, and a race grand finale in Pittsburgh to help celebrate the southwestern Pennsylvania region's 250th anniversary.

"The route's combination of challenging terrain and in town circuits make it the ideal format for a stage race," said Jerry Casale, chief operating officer of Pro Cycling Tour, LLC. "Plus we're thrilled that the race will showcase cycling's wave of new, up and coming talent."

In addition to inviting Espoir teams from around the world, organizers expect to include several American teams made up entirely of riders under 25, like USA Cycling's Development Team and the newly-formed Pennsylvania Lightning, an all-Pennsylvania squad being directed by former Olympic Team coach, Jack Simes. "Our goal is to field a top team that will represent the state's homegrown talent and give Pennsylvanians their own local favourites to follow," said Simes.

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