By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The big professional bicycle race returns to Philadelphia with a new look. The Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic will take place Sunday, when the men roll out at noon.
The new Manayunk-focused 12-mile circuit will start and finish atop the Wall — the 17% grade side roads in the neighborhood — off Main Street.
Rider Scott Zwizanski of Optum Pro Cycling grew up in West Chester. “I’m really stoked to attack this race with a new finish line. It’s going to be a different ballgame.”
From 1985 through last year, the race started and finished on the Ben Franklin Parkway, and had been as long as 156-miles. Now, it’s 120-miles, and racers on 25-teams will do 10-laps through Manayunk and East Falls, and then down Kelly Drive and turn around at Lemon Hill.
The women’s race, which starts at 8:30 Sunday morning, features top athletes on 20-teams doing five laps for a total of 60-miles.
And, the $60,000 in prize money will be split evenly among the top finishers in the separate races, according to the Philadelphia-based Fuji Bicycle’s Karen Bliss, a former road race champ who finished third one year in this race.
“This is the first year that we will have equal prize money for men and women.”