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Eleven Elite Cycling Teams from around the United States have been selected from over fifty applications to compete in the American Eagle Outfitters Tour of Pennsylvania Presented by Highmark Healthy High 5®, a U-25 cycling stage race taking place from June 24 thru June 29, 2008. The lucky eleven will face the seven international squads from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Netherlands and South Africa that were named on March 18. With two more international squads to be announced shortly, organizers will reach the event’s full field size of twenty, six-man teams by mid-April. A wait list has been established with the possibility of adding two more domestic teams if the field can be expanded from 120 riders to 132.
The selected American professional and elite amateur teams are based in Arizona, California (2), Colorado, New England, Minnesota, North Carolina (2), New York and Ohio. RepresentingPennsylvania will be the PA Lightning, a squad that includes former junior national champions, national team members and intercollegiate stars. The selected teams are peppered with some of the USA’s most talented young riders including State, National and Intercollegiate Championship medalists. Each team must name its roster of six riders for the Tour of PA by mid-May.
The six day stage race offers $150,000 in total prize money, the richest in the world for Espoir class riders and has stimulated young American squads to make sure they are fully prepared to take on the World’s best. Typical is California’s ZTeaM, a squad that has hired nine-time Tour de France veteran and two-time Olympian, Frankie Andreu to manage the team and make sure it’s up for the challenge.
“This is such a great opportunity to showcase cycling’s up and coming talent and to give our riders the chance to compete at the top international level on home soil. Normally, we’d have to go to Europe for a challenging stage race like this,” said Andreu, whose twelve year racing career took him from amateur competition in the U.S. to being a top support rider for Lance Armstrong’s Discovery Cycling Team in the Tour de France. “Plus this race gives our young riders the opportunity to lead teams as opposed to work for older pros. You can be assured that professional team directors from around the world will be scouting the field for the next generation of top talent.”
The American Eagle Outfitters Tour of Pennsylvania Presented by Highmark Healthy High 5® — begins with a prologue time trial and circuit race in Philadelphia on June 24th and will have start/finish locations in Downingtown, Carlisle, Camp Hill, Bedford, Latrobe and Ligonier before concluding in Pittsburgh on June 29 after nearly 450 miles of racing. The race is a signature sporting event for Pittsburgh 250, a commission established to celebrate Pittsburgh’s 250th anniversary in 2008.
Selected teams to date:
1. Argentina (ARG) Esco-Telefonicos
2. Australia (AUS) Praties Cycling Team
3. Belgium (BEL) Johan Bruyneel Cycling Academy
4. Canada (CAN) Team RACE
5. Ireland (IRE) Pezula Racing
6. Netherlands (NED) Global Cycling
7. South Africa (RSA) Konica Minolta Cycling Team
8. Germany (GER) (TBD)
9. International (TBD)
10. Arizona Team Waste Management/Racelab U23
11. California California Giant Strawberry Farms
12. California ZTeaM
13. Colorado VMG/Felt
14. Minnesota Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast Pro Cycling
15. New England Fiordifrutta Cycling Team
16. New York Sakonnet Technology U25 Team
17. North Carolina DLP Racing/Texas Instruments
18. North Carolina Time Pro Cycling
19. Ohio Team Inferno Pro Cycling
20. Pennsylvania PA Lightning