According to wikipedia.org, an amuse gueule, is a tiny bite-sized morsel traditionally served before the first course of a meal. Amuse gueule, often accompanied by a complementing wine, are served as an excitement of taste buds to both prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach to cooking.
The Commerce Bank Lehigh Valley Classic, held on June 3, is an all-new kick-off event for the Triple Crown Series (Philly Week) in 2008, the amuse gueule to prepare the taste buds for the big daddy race on Sunday. Three races will be held tomorrow, a short criterium race for elite amateur men and a similar race for elite women – both to be held in downtown Allentown – and the international men’s professional road race which will be conducted on a longer circuit route through the city.
The Lehigh Valley women’s course covers 25 miles on a 1-mile downtown circuit with four turns and a short “sprinter’s hill” on each lap.
Later that afternoon, 25 of the world’s premier professional male cycling teams will wage a 12-lap, 85-mile battle on the winding roads of Pennsylvania’s third largest city. The course traces a rectangular path from downtown Allentown, across the Lehigh River, and up the scenic and rolling Lehigh Parkway before returning downtown via West Hamilton Street. The 7.1-mile circuit will test riders with a steady stream of punchy, leg-sapping rollers. But barring the unforeseen, the endgame will likely belong to the sprinters. The organizers think that the crux of the race will likely be the gradual rise that comes near the end of that long finishing run down West Hamilton Street.
Sprinters, we got sprinters. Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine) and USA National Crit Champion (Colavita/Sutter Home) will face off once again, pitting lead out train against lead out train. Other sprinters and teams hoping to hop on include Anna Lang (Aaron’s), Rushlee Buchanan (Tibco), Vanderkitten, Kenda and Lara Kroepsch and her ValueAct team.
A who’s who of fast men is showing up in Allentown. Starting with the Pro Tour teams – Liquigas’ Daniele Bennati, winner of the Giro Sprint jersey will be hoping to shake off the jetlag, High Road trio of Greg Henderson, Brad Wiggins and youngster Edvald Boasson Hagen will play the numbers game. While JJ Haedo had to stay in Europe, so the CSC team is counting on Matt Goss to make it to the top step of the podium.
Then we have the pro continental teams. Slipstream with Tyler Farrar and Maggie Backstedt who had his first taste of US Crit racing last week at CSC Invitational and is ready for more. BMC’s Tony Cruz back from an injury and youngster Danilo Wyss.
But my money is on a domestic squad.
Toyota-United is coming in stacked with sprinters, Ivan Dominguez, brothers Hilton and Jonnie Clarke, World B Champion Ivan Stevic and Dominique Rollin and all controlled by lead out maestro Henk Vogels. Then, there is Colavita/Sutter Home squad who has been very successful this year with their leadout train and can tap a few riders to be the last man out, be it CSC Invitational winner Luca Damiani, Seba Haedo and Alejandro Borrajo. And the list continues with Health Net-Maxxis led by Rory Sutherland with US National Crit Champion Kirk O’Bee and Karl Menzies who just podiumed at CSC Invitational.
Want more? we got more. Rock Racing’s Freddie Rodriguez and Rahsaan Bahati. Kelly Benefit/Medifast’s Keven Lacombe and Alex Candelario. Tour de Georgia stage winner Richard England (Bissell). Successful Living’s duo of Alessandro Bazzana and Charles Dionne who is coming back into form after breaking his elbow earlier this year. Jelly Belly’s Brad Huff who has come so close lately and Nic Sanderson. Symmetrics’ Andrew Pinfold, winner of the last stage at Mt Hood, Team RACE’ Francois Parisien, hungry for UCI points to make it to the Olympics. Team Type 1′s Emile Abraham. 2007 USA Crits Champion Frank Travieso (AEG Toshiba-Santo). Jittery Joe’s Jon Cantwell. Now that’s a list.
Fun, fast and furious American racing.