Top cycling returns to Wilmington this weekend

By Sean Greene 2:16am, May 17, 2013 - Updated 2:23am, May 17, 2013
Cyclists from 30 states and 11 countries will converge on Wilmington's famed 'Monkey Hill' cobblestones and a tricky downtown course this weekend during the 7th Annual Wilmington Grand Prix.

The two days begin with the Monkey Hill Time Trial Friday at 5:30pm that runs around Brandywine Park and ends with the cobblestone climb past the Brandywine Zoo up to 18th Street.

Saturday will feature six different races broken into skill levels and the women's race. The marquee event is the 4pm Wilmington Grand Prix Men's Pro and Category I event, with critical points on the line for national rankings. The first race, the Men’s Category V 35+ starts at 8am.

The course is a figure 8, using King, Market, and French Streets between 5th and 11th, with the start and finish line located at 800 Market Street.

Last year's Monkey Hill Time Trial winner, Dan Harm from Seattle, says "I also loved the Saturday in-town race course with its high-speed descents, sharp, full-speed corners, bumpy brick sections, and leg-burning uphill finish. In Wilmington, you can expect to compete against the best cyclists in the country."

The event has attracted the top four ranked men and top two ranked teams, along with four of the top five women riders in the country according to the US Cycling Association competitive standings.

One of those women is second-ranked Laura Van Gilder from Pennsylvania who has claimed the Wilmington title three times. "It's a top east coast event with a tough course, great crowd enthusiasm, and a good prize purse in a city rich in cycling history."

The history she speaks of is the Tour DuPont, which along with its predecessor the Tour De Trump, ran legs in Wilmington during its existence from 1990-1996.

There will be a festival atmosphere around both days, with local vendors lining the streets along with the downtown restaurants.

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