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Wilmington Grand Prix Riding High

14 Feb, 2014


Race Retains Spot on USA Cycling’s National Calendar

For the seventh straight year, Delaware’s premier cycling competition has been certified as a National Calendar event by USA Cycling, putting this year’s Wilmington Grand Prix among the nation’s most prestigious races, the Delaware Sports Commission announced today.

Top professional racers are expected to gather in Wilmington May 16-18 for three days of events that pass through some of the state’s most scenic byways, attracting cycling fans from across the region and pumping thousands of dollars into the state’s economy, according to David Arthur, executive director of the Delaware Sports Commission, which has the mission of bringing national sporting events like the Wilmington Grand Prix to Delaware.

This year, just 17 events were named to the National Criterium Calendar, down from 25 a year ago.

“I announce bike races from March to November, all over the country,” said veteran race announcer Joe Jefferson, who will be making his seventh appearance at the Wilmington Grand Prix. “This event is hands-down the best one I do. I think it’s the best race on the East Coast.”

As part of USA Cycling’s (USAC) National Criterium Calendar, the Wilmington Grand Prix stands among the nation’s top criterium races (which challenge participants to complete a specified number of laps on a closed course along public roads, battling for championship points in team and individual categories).

The Wilmington Grand Prix will be the fifth stop on the calendar, which opens April 5 in Alabama and concludes Sept. 20 in Boston.

“The Wilmington Grand Prix continues to be one of the premier criterium races in the nation,” said USA Cycling’s VP of National Events, Micah Rice. “Racers love the technical nature of the course and the enthusiastic crowds that greet them. We’re thrilled to feature the Wilmington Grand Prix on our National Criterium Calendar for the second straight year.”

“These kind of high-profile events help solidify Delaware’s status as a first-class host for all sorts of competitions,” Arthur said. “Because it’s staged on local roads and through some of our most picturesque areas, it really showcases Delaware and Wilmington in the best possible light.”

Fans will get three days of action this year, with a variety of special events throughout:

  • The action starts 4 p.m. Friday (May 16) with the Monkey Hill Time Trial, a 3.2-mile race against the clock through Wilmington’s Brandywine Park.
  • Saturday (May 17) will feature racing from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., including three amateur races in the morning, culminating with the Women’s Pro and Men’s Pro races in the afternoon.
  • Sunday (May 18) will see the return of the Fourth Annual Governor’s Ride and the Third Annual Delaware Gran Fondo at 8 a.m. The Gran Fondo attracts cyclists from throughout the country by offering them a scenic tour through the Brandywine Valley. The rides benefit the Food Bank of Delaware.
  • Saturday's activities also include a variety of attractions for spectators, including course cafes, a DJ and live music, family activities, BMX stunt shows, bike vendors and demonstrations, and a street festival and sidewalk sale.

“We’ve made a commitment to making Delaware a more bike-friendly place, recognizing that giving people new and better paths to travel also helps improve our health and gives Delawareans more options to discover the scenic beauty of our state,” said Governor Jack Markell, who has worked to improve the state’s network of bicycle and pedestrian trails. “The Wilmington Grand Prix serves to solidify our status as one of the most walkable and bikeable states in America and is a chance to highlight the great recreational and outdoor opportunities that are enhancing our quality of life.”

Delaware was recently named as the 5th most bicycle-friendly state in the country, ranking No. 1 in the northeastern U.S., according to the League of American Bicyclists. Cited for the state’s strong programs in education and bicycle-friendly legislation, Delaware rose from a ranking of 31st in 2008.

In the last three years the Wilmington Grand Prix generated more than $2 million in local economic impact. Mayor Dennis P. Williams says: “The Wilmington Grand Prix offers us a unique opportunity to invite cyclists, families, neighbors and visitors to Wilmington for the weekend.  We take great pride in the Wilmington Grand Prix and the exposure it brings to the City of Wilmington. We welcome everyone to come see for themselves what Wilmington has to offer.”

For more information, or to arrange an interview with Delaware Sports Commission Director David Arthur, call Eric Ruth at 672-6813, or email eric.ruth@state.de.us.

The Delaware Sports Commission’s mission is to attract regional, national and international sporting events to Delaware to benefit the sports industry and community and to positively impact Delaware's economy. The DSC also assists with the retention and growth of existing sports events. To date, the DSC has been directly involved with recruiting more than 40 events to Delaware. Follow the Delaware Sports Commission on Twitter @Delaware_Sports. For more information, visit the official Delaware Sports Commission website at www.delawaresports.org or call (302) 672-6832.

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