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Univest Grand Prix - 1.2

Souderton, Pennsylvania, USA, September 6-7, 2008

Univest attracts top young talent

By Kirsten Robbins in Souderton, Pennsylvania

Will Frischkorn won solo last year
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

The 11th annual Univest is set to kick off on Saturday September 6 in Souderton, Pennsylvania. It is one of few UCI sanctioned events held in the US, typically attracting a large contingent of international riders. Amongst the stellar field assembled this year is the defending champion Will Frischkorn, who without a doubt will want to claim a second consecutive victory.

Garmin-Chipotle presented by H3O is the only UCI professional continental team and fresh off a successful debut in Tour de France. Frischkorn's team-mates include Blake Caldwell, runner up at the USPRO Championships, Tom Danielson and Tyler Farrar. However, the long-running event also attracts 150 riders from 20 different countries.

"We've gone for few but better riders this year and I think we have a very comparable field," said John Eustice, event promoter regarding the international peloton. "We are trying to make a jewel of a race, maybe not ProTour, but something exciting and interesting to watch."

Other foreigners include Canada-based teams Race Pro, Calyon Pro Cycling and Jet Fuel Coffee, the Italy-based Amore & Vita – McDonalds, Mexico's Tecos de la Universidad, Johan Bruyneel Cycling Academy from Belgium, the Germany-based Sparkasse team and CSC's feeder team from Switzerland, Cykelcity. US-based teams include Kelly Benefit-Strategies-Medifast, Team Type 1, DLP-Racing, CRCA-Empire, Jittery Joe's Cycling team and Toshiba among others.

"The top young elite and international teams are present," continued Eustice. "We are very television oriented and the idea is to create an event that makes exciting television. When we pull young and hungry riders together, they really go for it."

Aside from television, the event has also typically been important for the younger riders and amateurs looking for a professional contract. As a race of attrition, it has been used to scout out the next crop of talented racers.

The break rolls along the countryside.
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

The 160-kilometre, Euro-like road race is well known for the painfully undulating terrain surrounding Bucks County in Pennsylvania. The peloton will complete one large circuit followed by multiple, short finishing laps.

"We've taken a classic European road race, something that has taken decades to produce in Europe, and we've transplanted it into suburban Philadelphia," continued Eustice regarding the circuits steep ascents through the scenic countryside. "The event has never seen more than one or two riders contesting the finish. Its a very difficult race and a place for strong riders to emerge."

Staff of the Univest Grand Prix includes a new Race Director from Italy, Andrea Peron – a former CSC rider. Peron was offered the position because of his extended experience as an event director coupled with his long-term careers as a decorated cyclist.

"He is a man who has raced for the likes of CSC, Motorola, ONCE, a junior world champion and a palmarès that is incredible," said Eustice. "He knows what he is doing. We had all the pieces of this race before, but he has massaged them all together. We are very excited to have him."

Following the featured road race, the peloton will travel to a nearby city for the Univest Grand Prix Criterium of Doylestown on September 7. The men will end the race weekend competing over 35-laps of a 2.4-kilometre circuit, totaling of 80-kilometre of fast criterium racing.