LENOX, Mass. — Recreational cyclists can experience a "day in the pros" at the first annual Berkshire Cycling Classic on May 6, while the more serious can try to qualify for the UCI World Cycling Tour Final. Meanwhile, everyone will have the chance to race with the pro.
Professional cyclist Erik Zabel will be on hand for the inaugural event. He is considered one of the greatest German cyclists and one of the best sprinters of all time, proving that statement with six consecutive sprinting titles in the Tour de France.
"This will be my first time riding in the States since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta," Zabel said. "It is a wonderful chance to meet American riders and to ride the beautiful Berkshires."
The recreational cycling event, run in a classic format known internationally as a Cyclosportif, is held on a professional racecourse and open to cyclists of all abilities and ages but aimed at riders looking for a challenging experience. Sparta Cycling, a specialist international race production company, created the event.
The UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT) is a series of UCI-sanctioned Cyclosportif events that are held around the globe. The top 25 percent in each age group of the qualifiers will automatically have the right to compete in the UWCT Final and race for a coveted UCI rainbow jersey. The Berkshire Cycling Classic will be the only UWCT event in the United States this year.
Cyclosportif is a French term for a recreational cycling event where participation can number in the thousands and include riders from around the globe. The Italian term "gran fondo," or big ride, is often used for these events in the United States. Both recreational and racing cyclists use Cyclosportif events as a personal challenge against distance and terrain and to get the experience of a European pro-cycling event.
The first annual Berkshire Cycling Classic will feature route selections of 62 and 81 miles (100 kilometers and 130 kilometers). Overall times for both distances will be recorded and ranked according to age groups.
Registered riders of the Berkshire Cycling Classic will receive technical support provided by Mavic USA, well-positioned rest stops complete with energy food, choices for hydration, and areas to relax. Pre-registered riders will receive a commemorative t-shirt and vendors will be on-hand to sell a limited edition jersey. Following the main event, riders and their families will be invited to a post-ride celebrations hosted by our many local partners.