With a little help from Congress, Philadelphia may just have a professional bicycle race this year after all. US Rep. Robert Brady announced today the formation of a community-based non-profit group to organize and host the 2013 Philly Cycling Classic, a new world-class professional race in June.
Earlier this month organizers of the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship and its NRC women's race, the Liberty Classic, announced the events would not return this season. According to a report on Philly.com, the relationship between promoter Dave Chauner and the city soured recently, with Chauner still owing the city $300,000 from last year's race.
The day after Chauner announced the International Championship wouldn't return, promoters of the Keystone Open announced that the first-year event scheduled for Philadelphia in July would also not take place. Although Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said he would make sure the city had a race in 2014, failing to put on an event this season would have marked the first time in 28 years that Philadelphia wouldn't host a top-tier event, and that didn't sit well with Brady and city leaders.
"The mayor has called for a premier cycling event, and the team we have pulled together intends to deliver nothing less for the City of Philadelphia in 2013," Brady said in a statement. "As long as there is a Wall in Manayunk there will be a world class cycling event in Philadelphia."
The new race organization is a mix of sports event professionals with a proven track record of hosting world class events in Philadelphia, according to the statement Brady released Thursday. The group also includes cycling advocates along with local business and community leaders.
The new group includes Alan Morrison, co-founder of the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon; Richard Adler, the CEO of Philadelphia Triathlon, LLC, a multi-sport race production company; Karen Bliss, the vice president of marketing for Advanced Sports International, a bicycle sales and distribution company; Ryan Oelkers, the co-founder of the Cadence Cycling Foundation, a non-profit youth development organization; Bob Clowry, a Manayunk-based businessman; and Jane Lipton, executive director of the Manayunk Development Corporation.
Former Keystone Open organizer Robin Morton will be race director for the event, which would take over the June 2 dates formerly held by the International Cycling Championship.
"We have informed the USA Cycling Federation and the International Cycling Union of our intent to keep the June 2, 2013, date in Philadelphia for a premier cycling event and look forward to their sanctioning this event in the near future," Morton said in the statement released Thursday. "We have informed these organizations that our vision for 2013 and beyond is a more spectator friendly and technically challenging course than past races."
The Philly Cycling Classic will announce overall title sponsorship and other race sponsors in the coming weeks, according to the statement. A community and advisory board of local cycling leaders will also be assembled to help maintain the annual event.
The City of Brotherly Love obviously loves its bike racing, and Morrison guaranteed that Philadelphia will host an event this year.
"Pro cycling is an institution in Philadelphia, and the goal of our group is to make sure this tradition continues in 2013," he said. "Thanks to the tremendous support of local businesses and the leadership of key government officials, our team of highly experienced, knowledgeable and passionate individuals is working hard – and we will get this done in 2013."