Trib: Tour of Pa. kicks off today in Philadelphia

By Karen Price
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Also, check out the Trib’s spectator guide to the Tour of PA.

PHILADELPHIA — The first stage of the Tour of Pennsylvania will be held in two parts today in Philadelphia.

The first part of the six-day stage race, officially known as the American Eagle Outfitters Tour of Pennsylvania presented by Highmark, kicks off in the morning with a prologue time trial, or an individual race against the clock, starting at North Concourse Drive in the city’s Fairmount Park. The second part of the stage, to be held in the evening, consists of a criterium in which the cyclists start as a group and make 25 laps on a 1.22-mile course through the park, for a distance of 30.5 miles.

Although the criterium doesn’t have nearly the distance that four of the remaining five stages will have, the format requires cyclists to expend a great amount of energy because of the sustained speed and intensity of the race.

The race, which ends Sunday in Pittsburgh, is one of the events of Pittsburgh’s 250th anniversary celebration and the route follows Route 30, roughly tracing the path of the Forbes Expedition between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The 18 teams of six riders per team feature international and domestic teams, including two from Pennsylvania. They are the Pittsburgh-based Penn St. Cancer Inst-GPOA-Canondale a and the Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Lightning.

As outlined in the book “Pennsylvania’s Forbes Trail: Gateways and Getaways along the Legendary Route from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh,” Brig. Gen. John Forbes was the commander in charge of pushing the French out of the Ohio Valley.

Forbes is buried at Christ Church in Old City. In Philadelphia, the route he and his soldiers took follows the Main Line suburbs.

At the conclusion of tonight’s criterium, the 18 teams of six racers will have a vehicle transfer to Downingtown for Wednesday’s stage two from Downingtown to Carlisle.

Karen Price can be reached at or 412-320-7980.

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