Tuesday 5:40 p.m. update: The spotlight will shine brightly on Manayunk and Roxborough during the first-ever Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic this summer.
During a Tuesday afternoon press conference, race officials announced that the hilly Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood will be the site of the event’s start and finish lines.
On June 2, cyclists from the United States and abroad will line up near the top of Lyceum Avenue, an impossibly steep street known to race fans as the Wall.
“We have something that no one else has in the country,” U.S. Congressman Bob Brady, who spearheaded the scramble to keep a professional cycling event in the city, said inside Winnie’s LeBus on Main Street.
The 12-mile circuit will run roughly from Manayunk and Roxborough to Lemon Hill in Fairmount.
The men’s race, which will begin at noon, will consist of 10 laps.
The women’s race, which will kick off at 8:30 a.m., will consist of five laps.
A ‘NASCAR-like’ energy
Alan Morrison, president of the event, said organizers wanted a race where cyclists frequently pedaled by spectators.
“We think that sort of energizes the race, kind of a little more NASCAR-like,” said Morrison.
Both races are expected to finish up by 4 p.m.
Race organizers expect the event to feature 20 men’s teams and 20 women’s teams.
To date, 25 teams have signed up to compete.
A race revival
After nearly 30 years, the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship was canceled due to, among other reasons, a lack of funding.
TD Bank, the event’s last recent lead sponsor, chose not to continue its affiliation with the race.
This year’s event has not yet hit its fundraising goal.
So far, about $400,000 has been raised. Notable sponsors include Parx Casino, New Penn Financial and Sunoco.
Brady was hesitant to divulge the race’s budget.
“I’m not telling you,” said Brady. “If people know we reached it, they won’t give us anymore.”
“We will have no problem at all raising the money we need to make this a first-class, professional bike race,” he added.
The 28th, and final, Philadelphia International Cycling Championship had a budget of roughly $1.2 million.
City service costs, including police, totaled between $200,000 and $300,000 in 2012.
Anticipating a ‘more controlled’ race day scene
In recent years, some residents in Roxborough and Manayunk – many longtime homeowners– became quite vocal about, what they deemed to be, an escalating party scene on race day.
For the past three years, a bike race committee, made up mostly of the area’s civic groups and community development corporations, has worked with the city and elected officials to tamper down on unwanted, often alcohol-fueled, race day activities.
Jane Lipton, executive director of the Manayunk Development Corporation, which initially reached out to Brady, said Tuesday that she doesn’t expect the event’s traditional party scene to be rowdier this year.
If anything, she thinks the event will feature a “more controlled and better environment.”
“By bringing the VIP tent to the top of the wall, by bringing a different spectator, by bringing more families, by bringing more of the officials and VIP of the race, that fact is going to be a mitigating factor in how people act out,” said Lipton.