The USA Pro Cycling Challenge, one of the largest professional cycling races in the US, have teamed up with the second-annual Gran Fondo: Texas TMCO to create the KOM (King of the Mountain) Challenge.
Held on April 1, in Houston, TX, the Gran Fondo: Texas TMCO is both a race, and a recreational ride for people of all ages. The event features a USA Cycling-sanctioned “Gran Fondo” style ride that consists of a 97-mile route, including a King/Queen of the Mountain competition. Additionally, the recreational ride options have routes of 25, 45, 65, 87 and 100 miles.
Racing the climb into the town of Anderson, will give participants a sense of what the pros experienced last August, as the gran fondo participants will ride alongside the same course signage — albeit in a different state — and under the same KOM arch used in Colorado's USA Pro Challenge.
“Cycling in Houston has a great following, and the partnership with USA Pro Cycling Challenge makes our event unique,” said Eric Powell, steering committee chair of the Gran Fondo: Texas TMCO. “The Gran Fondo: Texas TMCO provides a great chance for all riders, regardless of their experience and skill, to get out there and start riding.”
The 97-mile gran fondo, which will follow recreational rides of varying distances, will give riders the chance to test their climbing legs in a timed “King/Queen of the Mountain” Challenge, a race within a race. The fastest male and female finisher to cross under the official USA Pro Cycling Challenge arch will be crowned the winner at a post-event awards ceremony.
“We see our partnership with the Gran Fondo: Texas TMCO as an opportunity to get more people interested in cycling,” said Brian Farris, chief operating officer of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. “Whether it serves as inspiration for the next pro rider or it provides encouragement for someone to just get on their bike and ride, we want to make an investment in the future of cycling.”
The leaders starting a stage at the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge (photo credit: John Pierce, provided by USA Pro Cycling Challenge)
The Texas TMCO Fondo marks the first time the USA Pro Cycling Challenge has participated in an amateur event, the Colorado-based organizers recognized the opportunity to bring elements of a professional race to people across the country. “It’s important to support the growth of cycling and encourage participation in amateur events like the Gran Fondo: Texas TMCO,” said Farris.
Both the race and the ride start and end at Houston Oaks Country Club & Family Sports Retreat in Hockley, Texas. Along with musicians at several of the rest stops, the Texas Medical Center Orchestra and Mariachi Los Gallitos will perform at the post-ride lunch, which will be followed by an awards ceremony to recognize the top finishers of the day.
Proceeds from this event benefit the Texas Medical Center Orchestra and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. More information can be found online at www.granfondotexastmco.com.