The Univest Grand Prix returns in September for its 14th year with a new professional cycling classification, a revamped road race course and the same Pennsylvania community pride and support that makes it one of the most spectator-friendly cycling weekends in North America.
The road race in Souderton on Saturday, Sept. 17, features dual UCI (1.2) and NRC (1.HC) status for the first time and will be preceded by the Cyclosportif 100K, a fully-supported bicycle ride through three counties on many of the same roads traditionally used for the professional race. Sunday, Sept. 18 is the Univest Criterium, held in the heart of Doylestown in conjunction with its annual Arts Festival. Both days feature a family festival, expo, and kid’s races.
“Above all, this is a community event,” promoter John Eustice, director and president of Sparta Cycling, Inc., said. “Local families house the competitors, volunteer to make the races safe for them, ride the Cyclosportif 100K, and come out and cheer for their favorites. What’s more – almost all of our sponsors are from the community. There is a strong sense of pride in what we’ve all built by working so well together.”
A new 100-mile (160 kilometer) course for the Univest Grand Prix includes 12 laps of a 6.5-mile (10.4 km) circuit, followed by five laps of a 4.5-mile (7 km) finishing loop. The change to a challenging, three-leaf clover circuit means spectators will see the field more than 50 times. The race, which is the final stop on the 2011 UCI America Tour calendar, will also be televised locally and streamed worldwide.
“I feel this race really represents the future of North American professional road racing,” Eustice said. “We continue to offer a unique showcase for the best young talent in cycling in a hybrid format between NRC and UCI races. It’s exciting, American-style racing on a spectator-friendly course, but with the prestige and presentation of an UCI race.”
Past notables at the Univest Grand Prix previously include Tom Boonen (runner-up as an amateur in 1999), Team SpiderTech’s Lucas Euser (winner in 2008), 2007 champion Will Frishkorn and Under 23 Swedish national road champion Jonas Ahlstrand, winner of last year’s race.
“Our emphasis has always been on young pros or top amateurs,” Eustice said. “We want this to be a gateway race for amateurs to compete against professionals. We’re not trying to turn this into a World Cup or ProTour race. We want to keep it right as it is – the most prestigious open race in the country.”
The Univest Cyclosportif 100K returns to its challenging roots that capture the spirit of the race by taking cycling enthusiasts of all ages and abilities through the picturesque countryside of Montgomery County, Penn. Sponsored by the regional accounting firm of Detweiler, Hershey & Associates, PC., participants will enjoy pro-level technical support and a chip timing system will record two challenging sections of the course, for a combined ranking. Afterwards, trackside seating will each “Cyclo” participant great views of the famed Univest Grand Prix.
Eustice said his own participation this year in London-Paris 2011, a professional cycling event for amateur cyclists, gave him many ideas for this year’s Cyclosportif. “I learned a lot from London-Paris, which is as as close an amateur rider can get to a Tour de France experience,” he said. “Like their event, we want to offer a terrific riding experience that features rigorous attention to safety and logistics.”
Pre-registration takes place online at www.bikereg.com through Friday, Sept. 9. Pre-registered riders receive an official Univest Cyclosportif 100K T-shirt while every participant is invited to a post-ride meal. Proceeds from the $65 entry fee ($75 on the day of the event) benefit the Penn Foundation, a Sellersville, Pennsylvania-based non-profit organization that provides behavioral healthcare to 10,000 individuals each year.