Organisers of the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic announced Wednesday that they have upgraded their men's race from UCI 1.2 to 1.1 status in 2016. In the announcement, City Mayor Michael Nutter also praised the women's event for its status as the ninth leg of the 17-event inaugural Women's WorldTour next year.
"It is great to see the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic continue to raise the bar for women's cycling in America with their iconic single-day road race in one of America's most treasured cities," said Derek Bouchard-Hall, USA Cycling CEO. "The women's field will be one of the strongest, deepest fields in the world as a stop on the UCI Women's WorldTour, and the classification upgrade to the men's race will attract many of today's top riders to the U.S. We are thrilled the eyes of the world will be on Philadelphia next June."
The upgrade to a 1.1 event will allow race organisers to invite and host only professional cycling teams with the highest level of talent in the sport, the press release stated, and organisers are expecting a more high-profile field to start in Philadelphia next year.
For the past three years, both races have utilised the start-finish line at the top of the circuit's main climb on the Manayunk Wall, and followed a 19.2km circuit that included climbs over Lemon Hill, Strawberry Mansion and flat sections along Kelly Drive. This year the women's race was lengthened six laps and roughly 115km, while the men's race was shortened by one lap for a total of nine laps and around 173km.
Although organisers did not reveal any details about next year's courses or the lengths of each of the races, they did note that the "2016 race will feature an enhanced course design, continuing its tradition as a dynamic and selective course best known for the intense elevation on the Manayunk Wall."
In an interview with Cyclingnews earlier this year, Robin Morton, the event's technical director and a founder of G4 Productions, acknowledge the possibility of a return to the old start and finish area along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where the finish line was located near the stairs to the Philadelphia Art Museum.
Whether that change will happen this year remains to be seen.
Philadelphia makes its mark on the Women's WorldTour
The UCI announced the details of the first-ever Women's WorldTour at the World Championships in Richmond at the end of September. They revealed that the series would host 17 events, a mixture of one-day races and stage races. The Philadelphia International Cycling Classic elevated their women’s race to a World Cup last year, and for the first time since 2001 when it was then known as the Liberty Classic.
There will be four stage races with the Tour of Chongming Island, Tour of California, Aviva Women's Tour and the Giro Rosa. It will also include one-day events that were on the World Cup with the Flèche Wallonne, GP Plouay, Tour of Flanders, Open de Suede Vargarda road race and team time trial, Ronde van Drenthe, Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Philadelphia Classic. In addition, Strade Bianche, Gent-Wevelgem, La Course by Tour de France, La Madrid Challenge and Prudential RideLondon have also been added to the mix.
"We are thrilled to host such a prestigious and competitive race in the City of Philadelphia," said Mayor Nutter. "The 2015 UCI Women's Road World Cup was the first race of its caliber to return to the United States since 2001 and it didn't disappoint. This year, the WorldTour will replace the World Cup events, but the race will still be the same exciting, compelling event that has come to be expected of the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic. I look forward to watching the best cyclists in the world ride the course past world-famous Philadelphia landmarks next year."