The Tour of Elk Grove will embark on its inaugural year as an International Cycling Union (UCI) event for the Pro men and a National Racing Calendar (NRC) event for the Pro-Cat 1/2 women. The three-day event is one of the biggest purse pay-outs of the season with a total of $150,000 and will once again attract high-quality fields to its home in Chicago, Illinois.
"Being a UCI event adds more to the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove," said Steve Hansen, Associate Race Director. "We have a larger and higher quality field of riders and for the first time a European Pro Continental team will be here. We've had many requests for invitations from teams all over the globe. It is exciting to see much more interest in this year’s race."
"We definitely have more interest from the women and more teams will be here with a full complement of riders than in the past," he said. "Having a stage race and being on the women’s NRC is a big step in the right direction, and the women’s pro race should be very exciting."
Race organizers’ decision to upgrade to UCI status for the men’s race allowed them to include UCI Professional Continental teams alongside UCI Continental, National and Elite teams. Professional Continental teams that are registered to compete include Geox-TMC and UnitedHealthcare.
Defending Champion Jonathan Cantwell (V Australia) will return to the start line alongside other former winners of the event also include Karl Menzies and Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare) and Mike Friedman (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth). Other strong riders include US Criterium Champion Daniel Holloway (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth), Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis-Sutter Home), Frank Pipp and Tom Zirbel (Bissell), Brad Huff and Ken Hanson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Luca Damiani and Ben Day (Kenda/5-hour Energy), Carlos Alzate (Exergy).
The Pro-Cat 1/2 women’s field will include the nation’s top teams that are on the hunt for NRC points. Race organizers have not confirmed the start list, however, there will be more than 60 riders including full UCI teams from Colavita-Forno D’Asolo and Tibco-To the Top.
"I think the quality of the field will be good," said Lisa Hunt, Tibco-To the Top directeur. "It is very centrally located and there are a lot of riders from this area. The major teams will be here. The course will attract a pretty big field. They have always wanted to make the women’s race a bigger race and this is a good opportunity to do it."
The Pro men will start with the AXA Equitable stage 1 time trial, a 7.2km and predominantly flat parcours worth $9000 in prizes. The Pro-Cat 1/2 women’s field will contest the same route, sponsored by the Woodfield Chicago Northwest Convention Bureau and offers $2000 in prizes.
On Saturday, August 6, the men’s field will contest the stage 2 Chicago Black Hawks Circuit Race held on a 10km loop, totaling 155kms for a $28,000 prize. The women’s field will race the Rotary Club 50-minute criterium for $3500 in prizes.
On Sunday, August 7, the men’s stage race will conclude with a brand new 121km circuit race sponsored by Gullo International worth $25,000. It replaces the previous years’ criterium. Race organizers were forced to eliminate the criterium in accordance with rules that do not permit criteriums in a UCI-sanctioned stage race. The women’s race will conclude with a second 50-minute criterium sponsored by Comcast.
"Since UCI rules require a minimum course of 10 km, we had to add a second circuit race," Hansen said. "The second circuit race has an entirely different profile. There are fewer turns so that stage may develop differently. The new course will take the riders on a few new streets in Elk Grove.
"It is still a fan-friendly course for Americans while providing enough variety from the previous day's circuit to keep the riders' interest. Overall the outcome of adding a second circuit is a positive for the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove."