Belgian Rider Claims TimeTrials as Tour of PA Begins

PHILADELPHIA - June 24, 2008 Some 120 cyclists, ages 18 to 25, from eight nations including USA, Argentina, Canada, Belgium, Australia, Ireland, Netherlands and South Africa were showcased one by one as they rolled off of the prologue starting ramp outside Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia.

The three-kilometer jaunt took the riders along the Memorial Hall's concourse before looping back around to Martin Luther King Dr toward the finish line. "It was a tail wind going out in to the descent and then there were some fast turns," said prologue winner Steven Van Vooren regarding the predominantly flat route that offered competitors an almost natural momentum.

"A headwind down along the river was where I felt like I was going strong, pushing a big gear," continued Van Vooren. "I conserved a little bit of energy for that last climb toward the finish and I hoped that that was enough for the win."

The Belgian descendant put forth a commanding performance and will lead the peloton in the American Eagle Outfitter's yellow leader's jersey in stage 1B's 48 kilometre criterium, on the historical path paved by General John Forbes and the young George Washington's historical Forbes Expedition, 250 years earlier.

The cyclists have embarked on a 420-mile journey designed to parallel the route of the Forbes Trail (HWY 30), the first road paved through to the western boarder of Pennsylvania, which has begun in Philadelphia and will conclude in Pittsburgh on Sunday June 29.

"I don't really know too many of the riders here," said Van Vooren who spends most of his competitive season competing in European events. "But I will need to pay attention to the riders over the next stages."

The inaugural event is recognized for it's tackling the need for a competitive middle ground by providing a platform for young riders to develop before entering into the professional ranks.

Van Vooren noted the importance of having more events like the American Eagle Outfitter's Tour of Pennsylvania, presented by Highmark Healthy High 5® where he has the opportunity to test his legs against a selective group of riders who are of his age category and ability.

"It's really important for sponsors and for myself personally," said Van Vooren pleased to have preformed well in the UCI event in front of his Philadelphia based bicycle sponsor Fuji.

"This is a big race, a UCI 2.2 ranking and great for gaining UCI points. The field is strong and the stages are difficult so I think doing well here means a lot to bigger teams who are looking for younger riders."

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