Fans save cancelled Philly Cycling Classic; race to return as “Independence Classic” in 2018

by Anne-Marije Rook


The iconic Philadelphia International Cycling Classic is set to make a return in 2018, the Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition announced.

When in January of this year, the City of Philadelphia announced that the long-running annual event —including the Women’s WorldTour race— would “take a break” in 2017, the news was met with disappointment and sadness from the cycling community nation-wide.

The race, known for the infamous Manayunk Wall and Lemon Hill, has been an iconic event in American racing since 1985. And, since gaining World Cup and Women’s WorldTour status, it has also been a rare opportunity for American fans to watch cycling’s biggest stars on home turf.

After the cancellation was made public, Philadelphia’s Bicycle Coalition rallied the community and launched a petition asking Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney to “find a way” to bring back the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic.

“The strength of this petition is in the wonderful and positive messages we have received. It has brought together the numerous voices across the city, region and country on why the race is so loved and it explains the value of the event,” the coalition’s Executive Director, Sarah Clark Stuart told Ella CyclingTips at the time, adding that the event attracts thousands of tourists and millions of dollars of revenue to the City and small businesses.

Signed by more than 2,200 people, the petition appears to have had an impact as the event is back on the calendar for 2018.

Rebranded as The Independence Classic, the event is slated for June 3, 2018, and will have a men’s and women’s race with a UCI 1.1 status.

“This is a big victory for us,” Stuart told Ella CyclingTips over the phone. “We wanted to make sure the City of Philadelphia and the cycling community knew just how important this race is to spectators and fans that come from all over the country. And we were taken aback by how heart-warming the feedback we received was. We are thrilled that we were able to bring together those voices and make sure those voices were heard.”

The women’s race, however, will not be part of the 2018 Women’s WorldTour, which means that the Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Tour of California continues to be the only Women’s WorldTour event state-side. But whereas last year’s cancellation of the Philly Classic left a gap in the Women’s WorldTour calendar in June, a new event —the four-day Emakumeen Bira stage race — now fills the space between the Tour of California and the OVO Energy Women’s Tour of Britain.

See the full 2018 UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar,  here.

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