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Tour of Pennsylvania - Route
 
By Staff
Date: 6/21/2008
Tour of Pennsylvania - Route
 

Tour of Pennsylvania - Route
International field of 120 U25 riders - 420 mile -Six Stages & $150,000 at stake opens with Prologue on June 24th in Philadelphia

American Eagle Oufitters ® Tour of Pennsylvania Presented by Healthy High 5 ®
Challenges at Every Turn

Wicked wind, steamy temperatures and plenty of challenging terrain are just some of the factors sure to make the inaugural running of the American Eagle Outfitters ®Tour of Pennsylvania, presented by Highmark Healthy High 5® a race to remember.

Facing this formidable challenge are 120 of the world’s most promising under-25 cyclists, who together will represent no less than nine countries and five continents -- North and South America, Australia, Africa and Europe.

The task before them is a testing six-day, 420-mile course that commences on Philadelphia’s hallowed cycling grounds, then roughly follows the Forbes Road (U.S. Highway 30), before finishing in Pittsburgh as part of the city’s 250th anniversary celebration.

“The number one goal was to trace the Forbes Trail as best we could,” explained Jerry Casale, chief operating officer of Tour of PA, LLC, the company hired by Pittsburgh 250 to run this first-year event. “This is the same route George Washington and John Forbes used 250 years ago. Along the way we’ll pass through a lot of the places that were founded that same year – Bedford, Ligonier, Latrobe. They are all celebrating their 250th and that was a very important aspect of designing this course.”

Day 1 Prologue & Stage 1 Criterium
Of course, creating a challenging race was also high on the priority list for the event that runs June 24-29, commencing with a double-duty day in Philadelphia. The morning of June 24 brings a short prologue time trial, with an evening criterium to follow.

“Philadelphia has a very rich cycling tradition,” said Casale. “So what better place to start this race.”

Stage 2
Expect the sprinter’s to rule day 2, a mostly flat 91-mile run from Downingtown to Carlisle, which takes riders through the heart of Amish country where they’ll likely encounter Lancaster County’s distinctive horse-and-buggy transportation.

Stage 3
Stage 3 is when things begin to get serious. The 104-mile ride from Camp Hill to Bedford is a classic progressive affair, with 37 miles of mellow terrain followed by a pair of mountain ascents. The first KOM officially begins at mile 63, sending riders on a 3.5-mile climb to the top of Tuscarora Summit.

After a brief respite, things will heat up again on the climb up Sideling Hill, a 3-mile grind with 2,500 feet of elevation gain. From there it will be a mad dash to the finish, as riders hit speeds of 50 mph during the rapid descent to Bedford.

“The difficulty really builds as the day goes on,” added Dave Chauner, executive director of the event and himself a former Olympic-level cyclist. “There could be a decisive breakaway, or maybe we’ll just see a lot of people coming off the back. You never really know and that’s part of what makes it this leg so exciting.”

Stage 4 - Climbers Day
That excitement will continue to build on day 4, when an already fatigued peloton takes on arguably the race’s toughest stage, the 60-mile trek from Bedford to Latrobe. What this stage lacks in distance, it makes up for in pure punch.

“What’s going to make it tough is that within about the first 10 miles the climbing starts,” explained Robin Zellner, the Tour of Pennsylvania’s technical director. “That’s the day that will reveal who the true climbers are. There are two major climbs in it, plus a couple of wild descents.”

Climb No. 1 will send the field up and over the Allegheny Mountains by way of the Bald Knob Summit, a 5.5-mile grunt with grades nearing 15 percent. After a quick rolling descent, the course turns uphill again, this time taking on the Laurel Hill Summit, a 2-mile climb with 15-percent grades. This day is almost certain to be the hardest stage of the race, and will certainly separate the wheat from the shaft.

“When you factor in that this will be the fourth day of racing and it comes on the heels of a hard stage, this will definitely be a decisive day,” Chauner predicted. “We’ll know a lot more about what the final overall standing will look like after this day.”

Stage 5
That should take nothing away from the final two stages, which include an 83-mile ride from Ligonier to Pittsburgh, and then a 50-mile criterium in the Steel City itself.

The stage 5 route will follow a mostly rolling course with one short climb at mile 21, and one last intermediate sprint at mile 38. Then it’s off to Pittsburgh and an expected sprint finish at the headquarters of title sponsor American Eagle Outfitters.

Stage 6
The Tour of Pennsylvania culminates a day later with a classic criterium in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. This four-corner course will give locals a great chance to see what the sport of cycling is all about.

“Overall I think it’s going to be a great course,” concluded Chauner. “It will be challenging and I think you’ll see a lot of attrition. It can be very hot in Pennsylvania that time of year, and there’s also the chance for lots of headwind because we’re going east to west most of the time. My prediction is that there will only be about 80-90 guys left at the finish.”

For the top survivors, the payoff for pain will be a share of the $150,000 total prize purse, the richest in the world for an Espoir-class event.

About the American Eagle Outfitters ® Tour of Pennsylvania, presented by Highmark Healthy High 5®:
The world's richest cycling race for elite international cyclists under age 25. The six day, 450 mile stage race takes place June 24 to 29 from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, featuring 20 teams of six riders each (ages 18 to 24) from around the world.

The tour is sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and will feature future stars of the Olympics and Tour de France. The race offers a cash prize list of $150,000 and will be televised on the Versus cable network, broadcaster of major cycling events including the Tour de France.

The Tour of Pennsylvania is being organized by Pittsburgh 250, sponsored by American Eagle Outfitters ®, the leading lifestyle apparel brand among 15-to-25 year-olds and presented by Highmark Healthy High 5® a five-year, $100 million children’s health promotion initiative of the Highmark Foundation. The initiative’s goal is to improve the health of children and adolescents ages 6-18 by providing them with the tools and practices needed to live healthier lives by making informed choices. Highmark Healthy High 5® Finish Line Festivals (which are free and open to the community) will feature health and wellness expos, entertainment, games and prizes at each stage finish. The official AE Tour of Pennsylvania merchandise is being produced by American Eagle Outfitters®. The Tour of Pennsylvania is managed by Tour of PA, LLC, a partnership between ISM-USA of Pittsburgh and Pro Cycling Tour, LLC of Audubon, PA. For more information, visit www.tourofpa.com

About Pittsburgh 250:
The American Eagle Outfitters ® Tour of Pennsylvania, presented by Highmark Healthy High 5®, is an important part of Pittsburgh 250, the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the naming of the region in 1758. With the support of business, government and civic leaders from across the region, Pittsburgh 250 has set three goals: Improve awareness of southwestern Pennsylvania as a global leader in arts, science and quality of life through an integrated regional marketing effort; support the completion of lasting signature projects that connect the region’s past to its future; and improve the region’s competitiveness for future generations by encouraging grassroots participation in improving communities, attracting visitors, and living healthier lives.

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