World Class Courses Announced for the Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Championships
Greenville, South Carolina
The Cliffs Valley, Paris Mountain and Downtown Greenville Highlight Individual Time Trial and Road Race Routes
Over 150 of the nation's best professional cyclists are once again planning to descend upon the Upstate of South Carolina in early September as courses for Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Championships were unveiled today by Medalist Sports, the sports marketing agency licensed by USA Cycling, Inc. to manage the event. In cooperation with State, county and city officials, Greenville County, as well as downtown Greenville, will host courses for the Individual Time Trial and Road Race courses, scheduled for this Labor Day weekend.
"We couldn't have been happier with both the time trial and road courses for the inaugural USA Cycling Pro Championships in Greenville," said Sean Petty, USA Cycling chief operating officer. "The time trial course was very challenging - power sections, climbing sections and technical sections - that rewarded the rider with all-around time trialing ability. We are pleased to see The Cliffs Communities course featured again this year. While the road course will feature one less climb up the brutal Paris Mountain this year, it should still be a selective, difficult race and will provide the fans even more opportunity to see the riders during the opening three circuits. Both the time trial and road courses have once again been designed to reward worthy national champions like Dave (Zabriskie) and George (Hincapie) in 2006."
The Professional Individual Time Trial Championship presented by The Cliffs, held for the first time last year, will continue on the same course, a distance of 20.15 miles (32.4 kilometers). The route will start in The Cliffs at Mountain Park and end at The Cliffs Valley. Last year's champion, Dave Zabriskie (Salt Lake City, UT), who is expected to defend his title as well as be a strong contender in this month's Tour de France, had a winning time of 41 minutes and 49 seconds last year, averaging 28.88 miles per hour (46.48kph) over the rolling course. In addition, expanded hospitality venues will be provided at both the start and finish locations this year.
The Professional Road Race Championship, now in its 23rd season, will be contested on a slightly shorter course this year, 110 miles (177 km) rather than 120 miles, but will add front-end, downtown circuits to make the event more spectator friendly. Greenville resident and current national champion George Hincapie is expected to defend his road race title, which will include four laps over the famed Paris Mountain.
"It was great to have the entire U.S. cycling scene in my backyard and see first-hand why I live in Greenville. I am looking forward to racing in front of my family and friends again and I can only hope that I could repeat my performance from 2006. Obviously anything less is going to seem like a disappointment," said Hincapie (Discovery Channel Professional Cycling team), who is a two-time winner of the Professional Road Race Championship (1998 and 2006).
Official invitations have been extended by Medalist Sports, in conjunction with USA Cycling, Inc., to all eligible American professional cyclists. 2007 marks only the second year that the championships are open to Americans only who race for UCI-registered trade teams. Previously, the event was open to both American and international professional riders. The field for the Greenville Hospital Systems USA Cycling Professional Championships will be announced in August. Additional spectator events are being planned, such as a health and wellness expo, public concert, and the "Stars and Stripes Challenge" fundraising bicycle ride on Sept 2.
"Greenville has proven to be a terrific host community for crowning the national champions of professional cycling. The location at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains provides a win-win scenario, with both natural beauty and challenging terrain. And adding circuits to the road race in downtown Greenville will make the event even more spectator friendly," said Chris Aronhalt, Managing Partner of Medalist Sports, which has been licensed by USA Cycling to operate the championships, including all route planning.
Route maps and details for each professional race can be found at the official web site, www.usacyclingchampionships.com. In addition, the web site offers online volunteer registration and hospitality tickets for purchase. While admission to both races is free for spectators, there are fees for hospitality passes.
USA CYCLING PROFESSIONAL INDIVIDUAL TIME TRIAL PRESENTED BY THE CLIFFS
Last year marked the first time that an American was recognized as a professional individual time trial champion, and the route proved to be a compelling test for 54 professionals. Utah-native Zabriskie won the first-ever Stars and Stripes jersey for this discipline in dramatic style, finishing 32 seconds ahead of the 2005 Elite Time Trial National Champion, Chris Baldwin (Toyota-United Professional Cycling Team). Baldwin crashed off the course on a sharp 90-degree right hand turn headed toward the finish line at The Cliffs Valley, and could not make up the time.
"Last year's race definitely had a bit more of an air of importance than it had in the past when it was teamed with the amateur events. I like the venue and the city of Greenville is very supportive of the championships," Baldwin, who lives and trains in Colorado, said. "I think the course is a very appropriate time trial course for a championship event. It's not too extremely flat or too hilly. It's a happy medium of a few rollers with a few sticklers at the end. It's not as much as a climber's time trial like the ones we did in the Amgen Tour of California or the Tour de Georgia and it's not just for the big power guys, either."
The time trial route will remain the same in 2007, a 20.15-mile/32.4-km course that starts in The Cliffs at Mountain Park and ends at The Cliffs Valley, nearest the Terry Creek Road entrance. Cyclists wind along a valley adjacent to the Blue Ridge Mountains and bordered by thousands of acres of forests along the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway. A four-mile section of the course offers spectators an opportunity to see the cyclists pass two times, including a gradual climb on Dividing Water Road, as the course has a turnaround point close to the intersection of Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway (S.C. 11) and Highway 101. The final section of the time trial route, inside The Cliffs Valley, provides the now-signature undulations and bend that can make or break the race for competitors.
"I will be back to defend the national time trial championships. The course is very challenging because of the technical aspects of it, so I have to take it very serious in order to do well," said Zabriskie, a time trial specialist who finished second in the Time Trial World Championships last year. He is currently competing in the Tour de France with Team CSC.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
- 20.15 miles/32.4 km; Start 11:00 a.m. cyclists departing every minute (estimated finish times determined week of event once field announced)
- Staggered start at one minute intervals from The Cliffs at Mountain Park to The Cliffs Valley
- Four-mile section of course is "out and back"
- Hospitality venues located at both start and finish
USA CYCLING PROFESSIONAL ROAD RACE CHAMPIONSHIP
The USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championship, a one-day road race which began in 1985, was previously held in Philadelphia, Penn. Past winners include speed skating Olympic champion Eric Heiden (1985), Lance Armstrong (1993), and Fred Rodriguez (2000, 2001, 2004). Hometown favorite Hincapie outlasted the 102-rider field and his soon-to-be new teammate Levi Leipheimer for a second national title.
While many of the same roads will greet racers and spectators alike, a revised road race course will allow spectators better views of the racing action. At 110 miles/ 177 km, the road race is slightly shorter than last year's version. Cyclists will climb Paris Mountain, one of the most prominent ridges in South Carolina, four times instead of five times this year. New for 2007 will be three start circuits, or short laps, that will be in addition to the three finish circuits.
"Adding more circuits to the road race allows spectators to enjoy more racing in the downtown area. This section of the course covers 3.5 miles of downtown streets, including two sections through Cleveland Park. Spectators can see the action as often as six times, or have the flexibility to watch the start laps in one section and move to a second location for the finish laps," Aronhalt explained about the road race course.
Each of the full laps should take the peloton approximately 45 minutes to complete. The finish line will be along Main Street, near the intersection of Broad Street, with the cyclists expected to finish between 4:45 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, depending upon the average speed of the peloton. The awards ceremony will follow at a stage on Broad Street.
"I was truly impressed with both the course and the crowds in Greenville last year and am looking forward to coming back again. The course suited me very well, so hopefully they will not change it too much. I hope that after the Tour de France that I can just put forward another strong performance like last year," said Discovery Channel's Levi Leipheimer, who finished second last year in the Road Race. Leipheimer is joining teammate Hincapie at the Tour de France, which began this week.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
- 110 miles/177 km (approx. four hours)
- Four long laps of 22.89 miles/36.8 km each and six circuits of 4.16 miles/6.69 km each
- Start line/Finish line in downtown Greenville at Main and Broad streets
- Start time 1:00 pm. and estimated finish between 4:45 to 6:00 p.m.
- Hospitality open from 11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (tickets available for purchase on-line)
- Greenville Hospital System Health & Wellness Expo open from Noon to 6 p.m.
PALMETTO PELOTON PROJECT
On Sunday, September 2, positioned between the two national races, recreational cyclists will have an opportunity to ride the same road race course as the pros. The "Stars and Stripes Challenge" will be hosted by the Palmetto Peloton Project, a local non-profit organization that raises money for cancer advocacy and research through fundraising cycling events. 2007 will mark the third year for its family-oriented cycling event in downtown Greenville and second year being held with the Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Championships.
A family fun ride is available for riders of all ages and abilities that will cover a few short miles. Two longer ride options challenge adult cyclists to the same roads that the professionals will take later in the day, with an option to climb Paris Mountain or ride around the 1872-foot peak. This year's "pro" route is unique in that there is not a mileage limit, but a time limit. Cyclists have three hours to complete their rides. Also new this year is that participants can ride as teams or as individuals.
Last year 500 riders participated in the event, representing 14 states and Canada, and raised $82,000 for the Oncology Research Institute of the Greenville Hospital System and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. This year the "Stars and Stripes Challenge" will donate proceeds to the same beneficiaries. Registration is required in advance, and applications are available online at www.palmettopelotonproject.org
ABOUT USA CYCLING
Recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Union Cycliste Internationale, USA Cycling promotes American cycling through its 54,000 members and 2,000 annual events. USA Cycling associations include the BMX Association (BMX), National Off-Road Bicycle Association (mountain bike), U.S. Cycling Federation (road/track), the National Collegiate Cycling Association and the U.S. Professional Racing Organization professional men's road). USA Cycling is the license holder for the USA Cycling Professional Individual Time Trial Championships and USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championships. For more information visit www.usacycling.org, or contact USA Cycling Director of Communications, Andy Lee at 719-866-4867.
ABOUT MEDALIST SPORTS
Medalist Sports is a full-service international sports marketing company. Medalist Sports specializes in the planning, promotion and management of multi-day, multi-jurisdiction sports and special events. The Medalist Sports team has experience in all facets of the successful management and promotion of world-class sporting and cycling events in the United States, England, Australia and China. Clients and event experience include the Tour DuPont, Tour de Georgia, Amgen Tour of California, Tour of Missouri, USA Cycling, Inc. and the Lance Armstrong Foundation's LIVESTRONG Challenge Series. Medalist Sports' headquarters are located south of metro Atlanta at P.O. Box 415, Tyrone, GA 30290. The company website is www.medalistsports.com.
ABOUT THE CLIFFS
Founded in 1991 by Jim Anthony, The Cliffs Communities is devoted to the sensible development of luxury residential communities and other properties, within the United States and around the world, in accordance with a philosophy of protecting the integrity of pristine environments while offering its residents and members the very best lifestyle. The Cliffs' domestic properties include seven premier, private master-planned residential communities located in the heart of the Carolina Preserve between Asheville, NC, and Greenville, SC, collectively bordered by over a million acres of national forests and state parks in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Cliffs offers home sites from $300,000 to over $3,000,000 and custom homes from $600,000 to over $6,000,000. To discover panoramic living at The Cliffs, call (877) 254-3371 or visit www.cliffscommunities.com.
ABOUT GREENVILLE HOSPITAL SYSTEM
Greenville Hospital System is one of the Southeast's leading healthcare providers, nationally recognized for advanced technology, innovative research and teaching excellence. The system's five campuses include a Level I trauma center, three acute-care hospitals and numerous outpatient facilities. Greenville Hospital System Cancer Center offers the region's broadest array of cancer specialists, many working through the Oncology Multidisciplinary Center. This multidisciplinary approach to the effective management of cancer allows patients to meet with a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist and surgical oncologist to receive a comprehensive treatment plan all in one day. More information is available at www.ghs.org.
ABOUT PALMETTO PELOTON PROJECT
The Palmetto Peloton Project (P3), based in Greenville, S.C., exists to promote the advancement of cancer research and advocacy efforts locally, regionally and nationally through fundraising cycling events. Through support from local businesses and enthusiastic cyclists, the Palmetto Peloton Project has raised over $100,000 for cancer research and advocacy since its inception in 2005. In 2007 as part of the Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Championships, P3 will host the "Stars and Stripes Challenge", a recreational bicycle ride to support local cancer research. For more information, visit www.palmettopelotonproject.org.
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