The 49th Annual Fitchburg Longsjo Classic is happening on July 3-6 in in Fitchburg, Mass. The four-day stage race brings a close to the New England Race Week, five races across four states, all within about an hour’s drive from Boston, MA.
The Fitchburg Longsjo Classic serves as a legacy for the history of cycling and the memory of Art Longsjo, a Fitchburg native and the first American to compete in the winter and summer Olympics in the same year. Longsjo was originally a speed skater and as part of his training, he took up cycling. He qualified for a spot on the 6 man Olympic Speed Skating Team to compete at the 1956 Olympics in Cortina, Italy. The same year, Longsjo won nearly every bike race he entered, which secured his position on the Olympic Cycling Team. Since 1960 the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic has been held in living memory of Art Longsjo, who tragically died in an auto accident while returning from racing in Canada.
The men’s teams. The roster includes multiple previous winners starting with last year’s winner Jacob Rytlewski, returning with his Rite Aid team to defend his title. 2006 winner Shawn Milne will lead his 6-rider Team Type 1 squad that includes Chris Jones and Ian MacGregor. Three-time USA Cycling National Cyclo-cross champion and 2005 winner Jonathan Page is also coming back with his new team Battley Harley Davidson/Sonoma. The Health Net-Maxxis will be represented by only 4 riders including New Englander Tim Johnson. Other teams include CRCA/Empire Cycling, Kahala-LaGrange, Kenda/Raleigh and TARGETRAINING.
The strongest squads on paper are the Colavita/Sutter Home and Bissell teams. The Colavita team includes Cox Charities Cycling Classic winner Kyle Wamsley, climber Tyler Wren and sprinter Alejandro Borrajo. On the Bissell side, look for an on form Aaron Olson and Teddy King to shake things up on the GC and for the Howard brothers and Richard England for the sprints.
The women’s teams. Last year’s winner Genevieve Gauthier is not included in the current start list. But the perennial competitors Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine) and Tina Pic (Colavita/Sutter Home) will be present. Multiple Longsjo stage winner Van Gilder will count on her strong team which CSC Invitational winner Catherine Cheatley and Stacy Marple. US Criterium Champion Pic also has a strong team including Kristin McGrath and Dotsie Bausch.
Team Kenda Tire’s Jacquelyn Crowell is a Junior National Road and TT Champion, will be joined by 2006 Can Am Pursuit Champion Anne Guzman, and Jacqueline Kurth, a Junior National Road Champion and TT & Crit Medalist. Other teams hoping to make it to the top step include Hub Racing and Terry Precision.
The stages. No major changes to the overall route except that due to conflicting events in Fitchburg, the Queen stage, Wachusett Mountain Road Race was moved up one day. The organizers have created downloadable course maps, as well as 3D fly-overs of all of the race courses – all available from longso.com.
The first stage, on Thursday July 3, is a 6.55-mile (10.5 km) point-to-point time trial with over 500 feet of elevation. The riders will leave the start gate at 30- seconds interval/ The first pro woman is scheduled to start at 3:30pm and the first pro man at 4:30pm (start list here).
Stage 2 on Friday July 4, is the Wachusett Mountain Road Race where riders will repeatedly face a grueling 11-mile course. On the final lap, the riders veer off the circuit for the spectacular finish at the 2,000-foot summit of Wachusett Mountain. Starting at 12:30pm the pro men will do 9 laps or 104 miles (167 km) and at 12:42pm, the women will race 6 laps or 69 miles (111 km).
Saturday July 5 brings Stage 3, the Fitchburg State College Circuit Race, around 3.1-mile (5 km) loop with approximately 100 ft. of climbing per lap. The pro women do 11 laps or 34 miles (55 km), and the pro men race over 24 laps or 75 miles (121 km).
The final stage on Sunday July 6 is the Workers Credit union Downtown Criterium in Fitchburg. The course has remained unchaged for decades, a flat 3-corner crit with a hairpin turn over 0.9 mile (1.4 km) city streets. Starting at 2:05pm, the pro women will race over 28 laps and at 3:30pm, the pro men will do 55 laps.
In 2005, Jonathan Page and his then team Colavita/Sutter Home pulled an upset in the final stage, taking the 3 steps on the stage podium and moving Page from 3rd on GC to the top in the overall. Watch video: