This Sunday, pro cycling returns to Philadelphia for the 27th annual Philadelphia International Championship. The race is widely seen as the biggest and most important one day cycling event in the United States. It's also featured some of the great names in American cycling including Eric Heiden, Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong, who have all won the event. For Armstrong, it was the first win of his professional cycling career.
The 156 mile event starts at the Art Museum and generally follows the Schuykill River. It heads northwest from the Art Museum to Roxborough and Manayunk, which is home to the famous Manayunk Wall. The race then heads through Fairmount Park en route back to the art museum to complete the loop. In all, it's a 14.4 mile circuit that the competitors complete 10 laps of.
While the main event is the mens' race, women also compete in a race run concurrently called the Liberty Classic, which is a fifty seven and a half mile race which consists of four laps of the course.
The iconic portion of the race is of course the Manayunk Wall, which refers to the section of the race that passes through Manayunk's Main Street, Levering Street, Cresson Avenue and Lycuem Avenue. The hill is a 17-percent grade, making it easily the toughest climb of the entire course. It's also the most popular area to watch the race from. The most welcome sight of the circuit for any racer is the "Fall from the Wall" after the pack turns off Lyceum Ave. Below we've got a map of the full course.
The challenge of the circuit has made the race a favorite of pro cyclists.
"2011 will be my second time in Philly. I love racing in the US and I really like this race. The crowd is great and I hope to improve on my second place this year!" said Peter Sagan of Slovakia.
American Jesse Anthony says he also looks forward to the event, "I look forward to racing in Philadelphia because it is one of the longest, toughest and most prestigious races in the US. I also am very excited to race in one of the most energetic and adrenaline-boosting atmospheres in American sports."