By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
The three-race series known as the Commerce Bank Triple Crown is right around the corner, and the promoters of the race recently announced that the second race of the series, the Reading Classic, will be significantly harder this year - with three ascents up the steep and technical Mt. Penn climb in the final laps, as well as a special prime for the first to the top.
Last year was the first year of the Reading course, replacing the flat and fast Trenton course with a more difficult 7.6 mile rolling hills and downtown circuit. On the final lap last year, the race took a small detour climbing nearly a mile up Mt. Penn before diving down in the finish. The idea was to make a course that would force a separation between the pure sprinters and the all-around racers. And it did, at first. But cat-and-mouse tactics on the descent enabled kiwi Greg Henderson to catch back on to the select leading group and easily out-sprint them for the win.
Henderson is expected to return with his new team, T-Mobile, but with a much more challenging task in repeating his Reading win. But for race fans, the drama that will be involved with this course change will add a new level of excitement to the race. And the racers in the leading group that were bested by Henderson last year, such as Sergey Lagutin (Navigators Insurance, Danny Pate (Slipstream-Chipotle) and Kirk O'Bee (Health Net-Maxxis) will likely welcome the course change.