America’s Biggest Stage Race Returns

America’s biggest stage race returns to central Pennsylvania as the 2003 International-Tour de ‘Toona makes its return to the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar July 28-Aug. 3. The first stage race in America to feature seven stages for both the men and the women, the International-Tour de ‘Toona is one of the largest women’s stage races in the world along with such races as the Giro d’ Italia Femminile, and the Grande Boucle Feminine.

Unique to the International-Tour de ‘Toona, is the fact that the women’s races are featured, starting and finishing after the men take the stage. In addition, the women cover the same grueling distances and claim a larger prize list than the men, an aspect characteristic to the International-Tour de ‘Toona alone. Consequently, the annual allure for domestic and international competitors to make their way to Altoona in mid-Summer is highly understandable. A unique and challenging racing environment awaits.

A welcome change to this year’s edition is the addition of a individual women’s Category III class. Previously, category III women could only compete as part of a team. With the changes this year, they will have the option of competing as individuals in the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday stages of the race, or as part of a team all seven days. Although categories I, II and III are considered pro, not all races give the category III racers the option of competing individually. Race promoter, Rick Geist is very excited about the addition of the category III's, "This is a change that many of the women racers were looking for, this year we decided to go for it. It is a great opportunity for us to be considered the biggest women's racing event in the world." Among women racers, it is a badge of honor to place or even just to finish the event.

Throughout its years on the domestic calendar, The International-Tour de ‘Toona has come to feature the most participants of any race in North America. It’s $120,000 prize purse draws teams from all over the world. Last year, Altoona hosted riders from 31 countries, most of which competed on of the 58 professional teams that were present.

Numbers aren’t the only thing that the International-Tour de ‘Toona attract, the quality of the field always compliments the quantity. Over 60 riders that competed in the 2000 Tour de ‘Toona went on to represent their countries at the Olympic Games in Sydney. Four Olympic medal winners have also took to the roads of Altoona in the past.

The race will kickoff Monday, July 28 with the time trials in Altoona. The riders will start from the Allegro and race to the finish at the Horseshoe Curve. Tuesday, for the fourth year, the race will visit the Johnstown circuit. Wednesday's point - to - point road race will begin at Crown American Headquarters in Johnstown. Racers will then tackle the mountains of the historic Allegheny Front and finish at the Logan Valley Mall in Altoona. The great Circuit Road Race in Hollidaysburg, will take place on Thursday, and has become a staple in the Tour de 'Toona, followed by the Martinsburg Circuit Road Race on Friday. Saturday the riders will race over an expanded course in the 100-mile point - to - point Road Race, which has become a classic worldwide. The famous downtown criterium will wrap up the International-Tour de’ Toona on Sunday.

This year, the Pro 1-2 Men’s Criterium will not be a part of the overall stage race, allowing the top pros to compete at the New York City Invitational on Aug. 3 without sacrificing their overall tour classification.

For more information, visit The International-Tour de' Toona

This Article Published July 15, 2003 For more information contact: