If you follow pro road racing in the US, you’ve likely watched footage from the iconic Philadelphia International Cycling Classic; and have stood on the steepest part of Lemon Hill to scream at racers, swill beer, and make friends with other cycling enthusiasts (or drunk frat boys) surrounding you. But if you were hoping to celebrate the best of American cycling this year, rain check those plans: This year’s edition of the Classic has been cancelled.
“Regrettably, even after extensive fundraising efforts, we were not able to find enough sponsors interested in covering the $1 million cost of the bike race to host it this year,” said representatives from the City of Philadelphia managing director’s office.
The Classic is one of very few races rated 1.1—one of the highest UCI road race classifications—available to riders on smaller teams in North America. There are only three races like it in the country (the others being the Tours of Utah and California), making it a blow to teams with smaller budgets who can’t take racers to international venues.
“It’s quite disappointing, seeing as it was a really important race to me personally, as well as others, in terms of exposure,” says Ben Perry, formerly of Silber Pro Cycling and now racing for The Cycling Academy. Perry placed seventh at the 2016 Classic, a finish that likely helped him earn a slot on his new team.
More than that, the race is a cultural phenomenon: The three 1.1-grade races draw crowds of thousands, and the Classic is the only one on the eastern half of the country. The Classic provides one of the few times a US city really gets fired up about pro cycling. (Show off your love of pro cycling with our exclusive Eddy Merckx-themed patches, available in our online store!)
“Aside from the career advancement prospects, the race was so so much fun!” Perry enthused. “My dad, who is 53, got multiple requests to join in frat beer pong parties on the Manayuck Wall in the last two years watching me there.”
There are going to be a lot of disappointed parents this year. But there’s a chance that the race will be back for 2018—or, at least, the possibility of it hasn’t been ruled out. Race Director Robin Morton of g4 Productions says, “We are keeping our hopes high for PICC to return next year.” So are we.