By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The highest-rated, one day professional cycling event in the United States, the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic, returns Sunday. It’s different from years’ past, but once again it focuses equally on men’s and women’s teams, with equal prize money and separate races.
Race announcer Michael Aisner says it’s one of the few races across the country to offer a purse and route to women that is identical to the men’s race.
“This is the race that has rekindled the relationship between men’s and women’s races with some sense of parity,” he says.
Karen Bliss, a multi-time national race champion in the 1980’s and 1990’s, is now a vice president of the northeast Philadelphia-based Fuji bikes, which is sponsoring two women’s teams and one men’s team here.
“This is the 21st century,” Bliss says. “Women’s cycling has been stuck in the Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs era for decades.'”
The 12-mile circuit features the blocks-long Manayunk Wall – side streets Levering Street and Lyceum Avenue – which top out at 17 percent grade on one end, and the turn-around at Lemon Hill in Fairmount Park at the other.
The women have an 8:30 Sunday morning start and will complete five laps for a total of 60-miles. The men roll out at noon, doing 10 laps, for a total of 120 miles.