After just three years in existence, Tour of America’s Dairyland presented by Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (ToAD) is now officially the largest competitive cycling event in the United States.
ToAD promoter Midwest Cycling Series, LLC, confirmed with USA Cycling the first place ranking, which is based on total number of registered racers across multiple categories throughout the 11-day consecutive race series.
“Cycling in the U.S. has grown tremendously over the last decade and the Tour of America’s Dairyland is a stellar example of a series that has helped propel the sport to the next level,” says Micah Rice, Managing Director of National Events for USA Cycling. “It is great to see this Midwest series gain so much traction in a small amount of time.”
USA Cycling statistics for 2011 show a 28% increase in racer registration from the inaugural year of Tour of America’s Dairyland in 2009, with nearly 5,000 entrants competing in 2011. Year three of ToAD, which continued to spotlight the landscape of the dairy state of Wisconsin, included maxed out field limits among nine criteriums, one road race, and a non-aero Time Trial.
“Our very first day of ToAD back in 2009 was the proposed [2012 Chicago] Olympics road course in Blue Mounds State Park…that course made grown men whimper and trees tremble. The day started out with rain and dense, split pea fog, and when we arrived at the course, there was an emergency road crew repairing a ginormous hole,” reflected Bill Ochowicz, co-founder of Tour of America’s Dairyland. “But that day ended with a safe course, and Matthew Busche, then just a kid from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, riding for the local ISCorp Team, winning the Pro Men’s race.”
“There was this humble expression of raw excitement on Busche’s face as he took that ToAD podium, and now he’s the U.S. Pro Road Champ and racing in the Vuelta a Espana,” continued Ochowicz. “Tour of America’s Dairyland . . . churning out Champions.”
In 2011, ToAD awarded over $130,000 in cash and primes to racers of multiple categories, including the $6,000 Ben’s Ultra Prime at the Downer Classic. The generosity of Becker Law Office, sponsor of the ToAD Women’s Series, afforded the total combined overall payouts for individual women racers alone to hit $31,000. Also new in 2011 was the $10,000 Pro Men and Pro Women Team Competition powered by 5-hour ENERGY.
“My five partners and I have intense passion for the sport of cycling, and we have the tremendous fortune to be able to tap our collective resources to offer a world-class cycling event. We’ve worked hard, have an amazing core staff, and are proud to be standing where we are today,” said ToAD Executive Director Jack Hirt. “Talk with any rider who’s been to ToAD, and they’ll tell you they’ve had a blast here.”
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board for signing on as our presenting sponsor on day one,” said Hirt. “Had Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board chose to not take that leap and believe in the sport of cycling and our vision, Tour of America’s Dairyland would have never been given that chance to become the strong, expanding cycling event that we are now.”
In ToAD 2011, the top prize of the Pro Men’s Team Competition was awarded to Aerocat, whose Serghei Tvetcov took home the coveted yellow and white cowprint Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board Overall jersey. Laura Van Gilder of Mellow Mushroom claimed the Overall Pro Women’s title and joined her teammates in celebrating the Overall Pro Women Team Competition victory.