COATESVILLE – One is a single-day cycling event held annually since 2005 and has already become ingrained in Chester County’s summer calendar of iconic events. The other is a traveling eight-race series spread out over 11 days that debuted a year ago and is trying to earn its way into that exclusive calendar.
More spectators viewed the established Iron Hill Twilight Criterium in 2012 than all of the inaugural Chesco Grand Prix events combined. And even though a significant number of cyclists participated in both last year – including twice-crowned champion Bruno Langlois of Canada — the two events are not officially affiliated in any way. But they are already becoming increasingly entwined.
In conjunction with the long awaited opening of the National Velodrome Center in Coatesville, these two are making a significant impact as this region continues to develop into a popular stop for cycling enthusiasts from around the nation and beyond.
A year ago, the inaugural CGP led into the Iron Hill race — this year there will be a three-day reprieve in the middle of the series to make way for the Twilight Criterium. In all, there will be a total of nine short-course, Criterium-style races staged over a 10-day period beginning on July 4th in towns and villages all across the county, from Parkesburg to Malvern, Phoenixville to Oxford. And the proximity is no coincidence.
“It’s a benefit to both events,” said David Chauner, the Chesco Grand Prix Co-Executive Director. “We aren’t directly connected with (the Twilight Criterium), and it’s not part of our series, but we are in contact. They have a great event and with our series starting in earnest right after theirs, it will attract more riders coming to their event, and it will help us because more riders will stay.”
It all gets underway with the Chesco Road Race on the Fourth of July in Unionville, followed by an off day leading up to the Ninth Annual Iron Hill race in West Chester on July 6. The Chesco Grand Prix will then resume on July 7, with the Third Annual Coatesville Classic, followed on successive days by Criteriums in Malvern, Parkesburg, Eagle, Phoenixville and Oxford. The series finale on July 12 will, once again, take place in Kennett Square.
Not much is expected to change from last year’s series debut. All of the venues remain the same, with one exception: the Eagle Criterium on July 10 is replacing a road race held in Unionville.