Details announced for new Philadelphia bike race

Philadelphia bike race

March 26, 2013 2:21:49 PM PDT
Professional bike racing is coming back to Philadelphia, but it will have a new look.

Details of the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic were announced on Tuesday, including new sponsors, a new name, a new course and a new start and finish line.

The line for previous races used to be on the Parkway near the Art Museum. Now the competitors face an extra challenge.

They will have to race to the finish on Lyceum Street immediately after climbing the nortorious Manayunk Wall.

"We have something that nobody else has in the country," said Rep. Bob Brady. "We have a wall."

Race organizers sized up the new location for the start and finish after announcing the new course at a news conference.

The new 12 mile course is shorter with more laps, and will be concentrated in Manayunk, East Falls and Fairmount Park.

It'll be 10 laps for 120 miles. The previous race had been 156 miles.

With more laps on a shorter course, spectators will see the racers passing by more frequently, and the finish promises to be a grueling nail biter.

"I think there was nothing that we could do to make this course better than to move it to the top of the wall," said Morton.

The annual race put Philadelphia and, especially Manayunk, on the map for international race fans. The notorious half mile climb up Lyceum Street, known as "The Wall" is a worldwide race icon.

Earlier this year, the organizer of the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship cancelled the race after 28 years because of rising city costs and loss of sponsors.

Congressman Bob Brady went to work trying to save the event, managing to line up new sponsors.

This year's race is now the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic. The casino has pledged $500,000 over the next two years.

"The city of Philadelphia is having a bike race on June 2nd," said Brady.

More than 100,000 spectators flock to the race every year. Business owners in Manayunk are thrilled to see the race rescued.

"To lose this bike would have been horrible. It's part of our image here," said restaurant owner Winne Clowry.

Also this year, race organizers are giving equal emphasis to both women's and men's races with the $60,000 in prize money evenly split between the two.