The Pro Cycling Tour has finalized the events that will make up the Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling, a three race professional cycling series this coming June. The event will include three international professional cycling races: the Tom Bamford Lancaster Classic on Sunday, June 3, the Reading Classic on Thursday, June 7, and the Philadelphia International Championship on Sunday, June 10. (See Cyclingnews' coverage of the 2006 edition.)
The 156-mile (251 km) Philadelphia race, held annually since 1985, is the longest and richest single-day professional cycling race in America.
While each race will have its own winner the "Triple Crown" will place emphasis on the rider and team capable of winning the overall series determined by adding up points scored in each race. Racers will be competing for more than $130,000 over the three-race series.
Taking a closer look at the three professional men's events we start with The Tom Bamford Lancaster Classic which follows last year's demanding 85 mile (136 km), 13 lap route through Lancaster's historic downtown streets. Riders will cross the start/finish line on Queen Street after tackling the short but tough Lancaster County Central Park climb as well as the many twisting and rolling streets along the classic course. Last year's race was won in a sprint by Jackson Stewart but this could be the year that an early break finally makes it to the line.
The following Thursday, riders will descend on Reading and be faced with a race that has been lengthened and significantly increased in total feet of climbing. At 75 miles (120 km) and 11 laps on a 7.6 mile course that connects Downtown with Mt. Penn, this stop of the Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling will be dominated by the climbers. Riders tackling the challenging Mt. Penn climb on the final three laps, unlike last year, when riders only raced up Mt. Penn on the final lap.
The 23rd Philadelphia International Championship will once again feature ten laps of the classic 14.4 mile circuit through Philadelphia and along the Schuylkill River highlighted by the brutal ascent of the 17% Manayunk Wall. Last year saw Greg Henderson take his second win of the week in the series in a select field sprint.
Pro women will get a chance to show their strength in one of the most important races of the year at the 14th Liberty Classic. Competing on the same loop as the Pro Men, the women will complete four laps for a total of 57.6 miles (92.7 km) including the climb up Manayunk Wall. The women will also be scored over the three race series crowning a "Triple Crown" champion with the highest points awarded to the winner of the Liberty Classic. Last year German Regina Schleicher proved the strongest of the day but her compatriot Ina Teutenberg was the more consistent rider winning two of the three events and was awarded the Commerce Bank Triple Crown.
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