The combined International Cycling Union (UCI) 1.2 and National Racing Calendar (NRC) Univest Grand Prix returns with a mixed national and international peloton on September 17 in Souderton, Pennsylvania. Crowds will be treated to a showcased professional men's 160.8km race held on two distinct circuits in the downtown streets.
"I'm a big proponent of the UCI-NRC combination," said event promoter John Eustice. "I think that's the future of high-level domestic American road racing. American racing with a European structure. It's a fantastic combination."
The race will kick off with 12 laps of a 10.4km long circuit followed by five laps of a shorter 7.2km circuit. Race organizers used a similar version of last year's course with the addition of approximately one kilometre onto each of circuits.
Each lap will include a challenging climb on Wile Avenue that has traditionally put even the strongest riders under stress during the closing laps. Additionally, there is the ascent of N. Second Street which will be used each lap to determine the King of the Mountains.
Jonas Ahlstrand will not be returning to defend his title, however, his Switzerland-based Team Cykelcity will be participating with a full squad that includes last year's runner up Michael Olsson.
The peloton will also include five Canada-based teams including UCI Professional Continental SpiderTech p/b C10 with its heavy hitter David Boily, who recently placed second at the Tour de l'Avenir. Elite-level Canadian teams include Garneau Club Chaussures-Norton Rose, Gaspesien-Passion-Velo, Jet Fuel-La Bicicletta, Kallisto-Wheels of Bloor and Ride with Rendell.
The peloton will be enhanced by the addition of two US-based UCI Professional Continental teams Team Type 1-Sanofi with strongman Alexey Shmidt and UnitedHealthcare showcasing sprinter Jake Keough, who is sitting in second place in the NRC ranking. Noticeably absent from the field is NRC individual leader Francisco Mancebo (RealCyclist.com).
"The event is very important as it is a UCI event which ranks highly on our calendar," Keough said. "The race also favors the team we are bringing with a lot of strength and speed for a selective bunch kick. I am not sure if there is the possibility of me winning the NRC. Because we cannot do all the races the series has not been a focus, but for sure we will race to win and if it happens it happens."
UCI Continental teams will field strong riders that include third placed last year Nick Frey (Jamis-Sutter Home), fourth placed Frank Pipp (Bissell), fifth place Alex Candelario and his teammate Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth).
"After traveling to Asia and Europe this year, as well as racing in the biggest events in the US, it is exciting for me to have such a high-caliber event in the northeast," said Anthony, winner of the Nature Valley Grand Prix and a stage of the Tour of Utah. "I do not get to race in this region of the country very often, so I really look forward to the opportunity to perform on a stage this big on the east coast."
The field will include a strong contingent of US Elite squads that include Bikereg.com-Cannondale, Breakawaybikes.com-IFRACTAL, CCB Racing, Champion System, Elbowz Racing, Hagens Berman, Heart House-CADV-CC Evesham, Pure Energy Cycling-ProAirHFA, Stan's NoTubes AXA-Equitable-CRCA, Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop, Panther p/b Competitive Cyclist and X/O Commuications-Battley HD.