One week after Pro Cycling Tour officials announced the cancellation of the 2013 Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, Rep. Bob Brady offered the 28-year tradition a new chance at life.
In a statement released this morning, Rep. Brady announced the formation of a seven-person nonprofit team to organize and host the Philly Cycling Classic, a new professional cycling race for Philadelphia this summer.
“As long as there is a Wall in Manayunk there will be a world class cycling event in Philadelphia,” said Brady. “Pro cycling is an institution in Philadelphia and our goal is to make sure this tradition continues…we will get this done in 2013.”
The community-based nonprofit consists of a mix of sports event professionals, cycling advocates, and local business and community leaders. Robin Morton of G4 Productions and an event specialist with more than 25 years of experience directing major sporting events will lead the group as race director.
“It’s been great the way the whole team has gotten together and we think we might have come up with a heck of a plan,” said Winnie Clowry, co-owner of Winnie’s LeBus on Main Street and wife of one of the group’s members, Bob Clowry.
Sponsorship and sanctions
The group still needs to secure a title sponsor and official sanctions from USA Cycling but Robin Morton says that the group is in the process of piecing together the details.
“It will get sanctioned. At this point, I believe it’s to be determined the level of points that it’s given, but USA Cycling doesn’t have a problem sanctioning the event.”
Jane Lipton, executive director of the Manayunk Development Corporation, and Clowry could not release details of the new course but said the final route should be finalized within the next few weeks.
“You need to have certain distances and certain challenges involved to be able to attract the best of the best. Let’s face it, if we wanna do it, we gotta do it absolutely right,” said Clowry.
But one thing is for sure, Lipton says the Manayunk Wall will be a key part of the race.
“In all of our meetings [with Rep. Brady] he was like ‘It’s gotta have the Wall; I don’t know what the course has to look like but it isn’t a race if it doesn’t have the Wall because that’s the draw,'” Lipton said.
Finalizing the race route
Bob Clowry, a Manayunk based businessman, co-owner of Winnie’s LeBus in Manayunk and avid cyclist, is a member of the newly-formed nonprofit team. He says he was one of many locals who wasn’t willing to accept the cancellation of this year’s bike race.
“Some people like Christmas and some people like Easter but for me, it’s bike race,” he said. “I love bike race weekend.”
Having the cycling championship in his city of Philadelphia brings him extreme joy, especially during the week leading up to the race.
“You see these groups of cyclists brightly dressed, flying up and down Kelly Drive like swarms of birds,” he said. “It’s poetry in motion the way they move on the bike.”
Clowry is working with officials to develop the formal race route for this year’s race. It’ll be different from years prior but will include at least 20 laps of a 10-kilometer circuit.
“We are not the old race and we’re not looking to be the old race,” he said. “We are the new race.”
Reaction along Main Street
As news of a revamped bike race started to spread throughout Manayunk, NewsWorks checked in with Cadence Cycling on Main Street, which often provides cycling services to the international teams traveling with limited staff for the race each summer.
“We’re excited [for the 2013 race]; we love it; it’s a really fun day at the store,” said Brady Gibney, general manager of Cadence Cycling. “We don’t do a lot of sales that day but it’s a big party.”
Manayunk resident Levi Olsen and account executive for Giant Bicycles compares the Philadelphia bike race to the New York and Boston marathons.
“It’s like a marquee sporting event for Philadelphia in the summer,” he said. “To lose this race in America would be pretty devastating to cycling right now.”
In terms of cost, Lipton said the event will still have a ‘significant’ pricetag but expects it to be less than the $1.1 to $1.3 million it takes to put on the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship.
The official team consists of Alan Morrison, a local business leader and investor in the healthcare and endurance sports industries; Richard Adler, the CEO of Philadelphia Triathlon, LLC; Karen Bliss, the vice president of marketing for Advanced Sports International; Ryan Oelkers, the co-founder of the Cadence Cycling Foundation; Bob Clowry and Jane Lipton.