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Men's race distance reduced, public gran fondo added to events
The 28th edition of the TD Bank Philadelphia International Championship, taking place June 3, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennyslvania, will feature some changes which Pro Cycling Tour CEO David Chauner is confident will be an improvement for both the professional cyclists as well as the cycling public.
For the first time in the esteemed history of the men's professional race, extending back to 1985 when Eric Heiden won the inaugural event, the distance will be reduced from 156 miles to 124 miles. The route for the UCI 1.HC-ranked men's race will remain the same, but for 2012 there's a change in the amount of main laps and finishing circuits.
As in previous editions, the men's race opens with parade laps on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway around Logan Circle, near the Philadelphia Museum of Art, before tackling the 14.5-mile main circuit that heads north on Kelly Drive along the Schuylkill River toward the Manayunk district.
In Manayunk awaits the race's signature feature, a steep, 800-metre hill known as "The Wall", followed by a descent back onto Kelly Drive for a return trip along the Schuylkill, with detours for the climbs of Strawberry Mansion and Lemon Hill, before rounding back onto the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The men's race concludes with short, three-mile laps around Lemon Hill and Logan Circle.
The first change to the race format is the reduction in the number of main circuits, from 10 to seven, while the number of finishing circuits has been increased from three to five resulting in a new race distance of 124 miles.
The format to the UCI 1.1-ranked women's Liberty Classic, which starts 10 minutes after the men's race and runs concurrently on the same course, will remain unchanged from previous editions with the riders completing four laps of the main circuit for a distance of 58 miles.
New for 2012 is the creation of a gran fondo event for amateur riders and the general public, consisting of three laps of the main circuit, which takes place Sunday morning prior to the start of the professional races.
"We are very excited about the partnership with Bicycling Magazine to create the first Bicycling Open which lets amateur and recreations cyclists take to the course while it's closed, prior to the pros, for three laps, which we've never been able to do before," Chauner told Cyclingnews.
"In order to enable us to do that as well as keep within the time frame we have for the streets, we opted to shorten the pro race by three big loops, so there's seven instead of ten, and we're adding finishing circuits between Lemon Hill and the Parkway. This drops the distance from 156 miles to approximately 124 miles.
"In addition to the reasoning to allow the amateurs on there and still keep the same time frame, we really believe this is going to make the race more exciting, particularly by adding more closing circuits, but also the lesser distance is, we think, going to make for a more competitive race and more even match. From what I've heard from the team directors most of them feel the same way. It sounds like it will be a good improvement."
The gran fondo ride begins at 7:00am on Sunday, followed by the men's race at 10:45 am and the women's race at 10:55 am.
For more information on both the amateur and professional events go to procyclingtour.com