The Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove is not only a valuable stop on USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar but also one of the most lucrative stage races in the United States of America. Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis) will no doubt want to defend his title and sprint home the $118,000 dollars on offer at the three-stage race, set to take place from July 30-August 1 in Elk Grove out side Chicago, Illinois.
“There are very few domestic UCI Continental teams that skip the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove,” said event manager Steven Hansen. “On that metric alone that makes us an important race. The amount of money on the line is huge by almost any standard. That has helped put us near the top of most teams’ ‘must-do’ races on the NRC.”
Luis Amaran (Jamis-Sutter Home) is leading the individual NRC ranking by 191 points ahead of Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis) in second place and 417 points ahead of Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies) in third.
Futhermore Jamis-Sutter Home is leading the NRC team competition by a mere 90 points ahead of runner up team UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis and 163 points ahead of third placed team Kelly Benefit Strategies.
“The Tour of Elk Grove is an important race for us because we had to skip Fitchburg,” said Jamis-Sutter Home directeur sportif Sebastian Alexandre. “The guys are excited to race again with the full team. The NRC is very interesting now with three teams inside 200 points. Any team can win it. I am confident that Luis will come back strong after his break. But he is still training and trying to come back 100 percent for Tour of Utah.”
All three teams will send a full squad to contest the event with Amaran supported by Jamis-Sutter Home sprinters Alejandro Borrajo and Ivan Dominguez. Sutherland and Menzies will be joined by UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis teammate and newest addition Hilton Clarke while Zwizabskie’s Kelly Benefit Strategies team is bolstered by the 2008 winner David Veilleux.
Other notable participants include Ben Day and Jonathan Cantwell (Fly V Australia), Kyle Wamsley and Frank Pipp (Bissell), Brad Huff (Jelly Belly-Kenda), Luca Damiani (Kenda-Grinder) and Mark Hekman (Mountain Khakis-Jittery Joes).
This year’s top American rider at the Tour de France, Chris Horner (RadioShack), will return to the Tour of Elk Grove. He has been a long-time contender and supporter of the race. Last year Horner earned a fifth place in the overall classification after starting the race with a sixth place in the prologue. He went on to place 10th in the circuit race and 12th in the closing criterium.
“We have all the major domestic UCI Continental teams back again this year,” Hansen said. “One team that will be missing this year is BMC. BMC won the team competition at the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove. That is unfortunate news for us.
“The good news for us is that all four previous winners will be back,” he added. “We are keenly hoping to see the first two-time winner come out of this year's Tour of Elk Grove. Time will soon tell.”
The Tour of Elk Grove will kick off with a highly lucrative MTI Construction time trial held in and around the Elk Grove Village. The event will cater to the fastest prologue and time trial specialists, with a flat course that includes winding roads and two U-turns. It is one of the highest prized individual time trials in the country and at just over seven kilometres in length it offers roughly $1,400 per kilometre, totalling $10,000.
The second stage will bring the peloton on a wild goose chase at the AXA Equitable Circuit Race that includes 26-corners on each lap for a total of 155 kilometres. The stage race will conclude at the Gullo International Pro Men Criterium. The racers will be treated to a 115-kilometre race held on a short and fast circuit for a total of $26,000.
“There are no changes at all in the route this year,” Hansen said. “We feel this is good. Course records are easy to maintain, and the riders know what to expect.
“While it is not a classic stage race, our three-day three stage format is perhaps a great compromise in the United States where professional level stage races are still rare, and where the one-day criterium races are not really recognised by the UCI,” he added. “This format could expand and we've been able to show that it can work well.”