Returning to this year's Tour of the Battenkill in Salem, New York on April 19 is Team R.A.C.E. Pro of Canada, managed by Tour de France stage winner and 1984 Olympic silver medalist Steve Bauer and Josee Larocque of Cycle Sport Management, Inc.
Team R.A.C.E Pro returns with an expanded squad that includes one-day classic specialist and 5-time Canadian National Road Champion Mark Walters, as well as 2007 Univest Omnium Champion Ryan Roth. Both are aiming for Beijing Olympic berths in 2008.
"We're sure the competition will be very good," Bauer said. "It's a classic road race. It has great elements to bring out the best in racers."
Bauer, who wore the Tour de France Yellow Jersey for 10 days during the 1990 epic stage race, leads a team that has taken on a dual role as professional cycling team and ambassadors for the R.A.C.E Foundation - Race Against Cancer Everywhere.
"R.A.C.E. is a foundation that has a strong club team supporting the fundraising events," Bauer added. "Our principal sponsor Planet Energy loves the sport and supports the cause in a serious way. Planet Energy wants the name of the team Team R.A.C.E. Pro to remain present bringing awareness to the cause," said Bauer. "Any support and funds raised for kids living with and beyond cancer is a big success. We hope the professional team will be an international success to match its legacy. "
According to Bauer, Team R.A.C.E. Pro ranks among the best UCI Continental teams in North America and will be challenged by more than 16 other elite teams that includes Rite Aid Professional Cycling Team, EVA-Devinci, Calyon Pro Cycling, and Jet Fuel Coffee Cycling Team.
"In general we have group of all round road racers," Bauer added. "Mark Walters and Ryan Roth are both seasoned road guys that can win big one day races. All the rest of the boys are ready to show what they are made of. We are giving them an opportunity to be professional cyclists. The rest is up to them."
Already the largest single-day road race in the U.S.A with more than 1,300 racers from 25 States and Canada registered in 16 different fields, the Tour of the Battenkill expects to draw nearly 1,600 racers by race day that includes a full, 125 rider Pro/1 field. The event is hosted in cooperation with the towns and villages of the Battenkill Valley. Proceeds will benefit Farm Team Cycling of Cambridge, a regional Junior-level cycling team, and the Public Libraries of Southern Washington County, New York.
Starting and finishing in the rural Washington County New York village of Salem, the race features one of the most challenging and unique race courses on the North American calendar with a single 55-mile loop for the amateurs, rolling countryside, direct passes through small villages, covered bridges, and the un-paved roads that have become the race's trademark. Challenging sections of the course include Juniper Swamp in the Town of Salem, a quarter mile un-paved climb with a 15-percent grade, Meeting House and Becker Roads in Easton, four very difficult un-paved climbs that come late in the course, and the challenging climb up Willard Mountain at mile 30.
The Elite and Professional men will race on an extended 82-mile course that will feature the rarely-travelled McKie Hollow in the Town of White Creek, a half -mile unpaved climb that averages 12- to 15-percent in grade, and they'll finish with a final seven-mile circuit in the Town of Salem. Along the way, racers will pass directly through the small villages of Salem, Cambridge, and Greenwich giving spectators several opportunities to see the race.