Philadelphia International Championship


Philadelphia International Championship

Infobox cycling race
name = Philadelphia International Championship
current_event =


date = Early-June
region = Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
english = Philadelphia International Championship
localnames = Commerce Bank Philadelphia International Championship en icon
nickname = CoreStates
discipline = Road
competition = UCI America Tour
type = Road race
organiser =
director =
first = 1985
last =
firstwinner = flagicon|USA Eric Heiden
mostwins = N/A (no repeat race winners)
mostrecent = flagicon|DEN Matti Breschel

Philadelphia International Championship is the current name given to an annual bicycle race held in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is described as "America's top international cycling classic, and one of the richest and most prestigious one day races outside of Europe." It is one of the longest single-day races in the U.S., with a total distance of 251 kilometres (156 miles). The men's elite event is ranked 1.HC by the International Cycling Union (UCI), the sport's governing body, which makes it the highest ranking single-day race in the Western Hemisphere, and is part of the UCI America Tour.

While the event has had a continuous history since 1985, its official name has changed a number of times as the result of bank mergers and acquisitions of corporate sponsors. The title sponsorship was originally held by CoreStates, then passed to First Union in 1998, and then Wachovia in 2002. In November 2005, Wachovia announced that they were withdrawing their sponsorship, which left the event's organizers scrambling for new corporate support. With assistance from former Philadelphia mayor and current Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, a new corporate sponsor was found to ensure a race in 2006, Commerce Bank, who has made a four-year commitment to sponsor the race.

The Philadelphia International Championship has become the final leg of a one-week, 3-race circuit called the Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling. The three races take place in the Southeastern Pennsylvania cities of Lancaster, Reading and Philadelphia. The opening race is the Lancaster Classic, followed four days later by the Reading Classic, with the finale in Philadelphia three days after that. These three races are the most prestigious one-day bicycle races on the UCI racing calendar in North or South America.

Through 2005, the highest placed finisher registered in the United States was hailed as the USPRO Champion, regardless of whether or not that racer won the race. As such the race was often simply called the USPRO Championships; however, at around the same time that Wachovia announced it was ending its sponsorship, USA Cycling, the national governing body for cycling in the U.S., decided to strip the Philadelphia race of the USPRO title, as they wanted the race to restrict itself to American participants. Local organizers of the event insisted that the race's field remain open to international competitors.

The event actually comprises two races, a men's and a women's race, with the latter called the "Liberty Classic". The 10 lap men's race consists of a 3 lap 1.6 kilometre (1 mile) opening circuit, 10 23.2 kilometre (14.4 mile) laps of the primary circuit, and closes with a 3 lap 4.8 kilometre closing circuit. The total course distance is 251 kilometres (156 miles). The women's race is held on the same course, but starts later than the men's race. Additionally, the women's race is considerably shorter in length, consisting of 4 laps of the primary circuit for a distance of 92.7 kilometres (57.6 miles).

The race starts at the Philadelphia Art Museum and then heads into the northwest section of the city, through the neighborhoods of East Falls, Manayunk, and Roxborough, then return toward the museum to complete its loop, passing numerous parts of Fairmount Park along the way.

Top cyclists who have participated include Eric Heiden, who won the inaugural race in 1985, Greg LeMond, and Lance Armstrong, who started his professional career when he won the race in 1993.

Manayunk Wall

In bicycling terminology, a "wall" is a relatively steep incline. The "Manayunk Wall," located by Jerry Casale and David Chauner when they were laying out the course for its commencement in 1985 as the (former, as of 2006) USPRO championship race, refers to two streets along the race's course in the northwest section of Philadelphia, Levering Street and Lyceum Avenue. The bottom of the "wall" begins at Main Street and Levering Street in the neighborhood of Manayunk, proceeds shortly on the well-worn cobblestone Cresson Street under the elevated railway, then proceeds back onto Levering Street.

Some confusion can occur among media broadcasters covering the race, as most of the Wall is part of Levering Street, but suddenly becomes Lyceum Avenue at Tower Street (at N40 01.631 W75 13.313). The steepest section, a 17-percent grade, commences just after the slight left turn (when going up) at the intersection with Tower Street (N40 01.652 W75 13.277), and ends at the intersection with Fleming street (N40 01.726 W75 13.226). It becomes slightly less steep on the stretch with "O'Brien's" as it crosses Manayunk Avenue. It nearly flattens out and is considered to end at Pechin Street in Roxborough, which is where most of the news crews set up for broadcasting. The right turn off Lyceum Avenue onto Pechin Street (N40 01.847 W75 13.069) begins "The Fall from the Wall." Manayunk Avenue also happens to mark the traditional boundary between the neighborhoods of Manayunk and Roxborough, causing some broadcasters to be uncertain of which neighborhood they are reporting from.

"O'Brien's Water Hole" is a residential house along the wall that is famous for setting up a water sprinkler for the cyclists to ride through (if they wish). In the early years of the race, no one seemed to mind the "watering hole", but as the race became more important, the O'Briens received criticism as a "distraction" for the competitors. Today, the "watering hole" is much reduced.

In addition to the several corporate names under which the race has been known, some locals also call it the "Manayunk bike race".

On June 5th, 2002, Manayunk officially designated the 17-percent grade as "the Manayunk Wall" with a plaque dedicated to indicate "The Wall" is enshrined in Domestic and International cycling lore. Olympic gold medalist Marty Nothstein was among the participants in the 2002 ceremony, presenting the plaque.

Downhill Race

At midnight, the morning of the International Championship an unsanctioned race down "The Wall" took place from 1996-2006. It was known to organizers and participants as "The Downhill." The race was conceived at a local drinking establishment, The Dawson Street Pub. Racers gather at The Pub before the race and then walk in unison to "The Wall." The race starts at Manayunk Avenue and Lyceum Avenue and continues to the bottom of the hill or until where police have the street blocked off. Some of the vehicles used in the race include; BMX bikes, tricycles, shopping carts, wheelchairs, skateboards, bed frames, roller skates. After being promoted on a local radio station in 2003 (to the dismay of the organizers), the event grew in popularity and in 2006 several thousand spectators attended. In 2007, police presence for the event was largely increased, and police vehicles were placed lengthwise across the street, blocking the roadway from participants. Any attempt to enter the course with a racing apparatus resulted in immediate arrest and confiscation of the vehicle.On September 6, 2008 the Red Bull [http://www.redbullsoapboxusa.com/ Soapbox Race] will be held at the Manayunk Wall.

Past winners

General classification

* Also served as USPRO Championships for USA riders up to 2005

VisitPA.com Best Climber’s Award

Participating teams

2007 teams

All teams are based in the USA unless otherwise noted:

* AEG Toshiba-JetNetwork Pro Cycling Team
* BMC Racing Team
* Caico Cycling Team PUR
* Calyon - Litespeed Pro Cycling Team CAN
* Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home Wines Cycling Team
* Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis
* Jelly Belly Cycling Team
* Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team
* Kelly Benefit Strategies / Medifast
* KodakGallery.com - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
* Navigators Insurance Cycling Team
* Nerac Pro Cycling
* Priority Health Cycling Team Presented by Bissell
* Rite Aid Pro Cycling
* Rock Racing
* SuccessFulliving.com Presented by Parkpre
* Symmetrics Professional Cycling Team CAN
* Team CSC DEN
* Team Slipstream Presented by Chipolte
* Tecos de la Universidad de Guadalajara MEX
* Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team
* T-Mobile Team GER

2006 teams

All teams are based in the USA unless otherwise noted:
* AEG Toshiba-JetNetwork Pro Cycling Team
* Barloworld Pro Cycling Team GBR
* Caico Cycling Team PUR
* Calyon - Litespeed Pro Cycling Team CAN
* Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home Wines Cycling Team
* Columbian National Team COL
* Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis
* Jelly Belly Cycling Team
* Jittery Joe's - Zero Gravity Pro Cycling Team
* KodakGallery.com - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
* Navigators Insurance Cycling Team
* Nerac-Outdoorlights.com Cycling Team
* Netherlands National Team NED
* Priority Health Cycling Team Presented by Bissell
* Rite Aid Pro Cycling
* SuccessFulliving.com Presented by Parkpre
* Symmetrics Professional Cycling Team CAN
* Target Training Cycling Team
* Team CSC DEN
* Team Monex
* Team Sparkasse GER
* TIAA-CREF Cycling Team
* Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team
* VMG Racing Team

See also

* List of Important Road Bicycle Racing Events

External links

* [http://www.procyclingtour.com/ Pro Cycling Tour Official site]
* [http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b02/en/common/item_detail.jhtml?id=803134/ Harvard Business Review report]
* [http://www.hoovers.com/threshold-sports/--ID__127905--/free-co-factsheet.xhtml?cm_ven=Biz_Dev&cm_cat=Google&cm_pla=Free&cm_ite=Factsheet/ Hoovers review]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P68mtrXGg1o Downhill Race Video]


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