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One-day 'Toona still lucrative

What was once a seven-day tour is now one high-speed event held on Sunday July 28. The city of Altoona is set to host the 2008 International Tour de Toona criterium through the downtown streets.

The event is well known for offering equal prize money between the Pro men and women peloton. Race director Larry Bilotto continues to pave the way for sport parity offering a $15,000 prize purse and each field. Both categories will also compete in a 65-kilometre race.

The venue has not changed from what was the seventh and finale stage of the previous tour. The one-mile, eight-corner circuit offers something for every type of rider. It begins with a false flat up hill through the first two corners followed by a gradual descent. The riders must take on two sets of technical chicanes before the finale corner to the finish line.

Key riders include 2006 winner Kyle Wamsley (Colavita/Sutter Home), Bill Elliston (Rite Aid Pro), Dave Fuentes (Batley-Harley Davidson), Jackie Simes (Time Pro Cycling) and Elliot Gaunt (Hershey Cancer Institute).

On the women's side Pocono's Mountain native, Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine) and US criterium champion Tina Pic (Colavita/Sutter Home) look to add to their list of career victories. Other notable riders include Sarah Caravella (Tibco), Laura McCaughey (Juice Plus), Sue Palmer Komar (Advil ChapStick) and Veronica Martinez (JVR Sports).

According to Bilotto, the event was downsized to allow the race committee to re-tool and come back stronger for next year's 2009 event.