SOMERVILLE, NJ - A bright blue sky and puffy clouds overhead provided perfect conditions for the borough's Memorial Day tradition, the 76th annual Tour of Somerville bicycle race.
Thousands of residents and visitors lined Main Street, North Bridge Street, West High Street, Mountain Avenue and West End Avenue to cheer on hundreds of world-class cyclists in a series of races that culminated with the featured “Kugler-Anderson Memorial” 50-mile men’s race with 200 elite cyclists negotiating a multi-lap, four-turn circuit at speeds of up to 40 mph.
The men's race was preceded by the 25-mile Pro/Category 1 women’s race at 3 p.m. and attracted top professional teams from throughout North America. Both the men's and women's professional race offered purses of $10,000 each.
Bicycle racers from as far away as California, Texas, Canada and Australia competed in what is America’s oldest, continuously run bicycle race.
The race is named in honor of its first two winners, Furman Kugler of Somerville (1940, 1941) and Carl Anderson of Clifton, N.J. (1942). The race was suspended during World War II, where both men lost their lives, and renewed in 1947 and named in their honor.
The Memorial Day races wrap up a weekend of competitive cycling that included numerous multi-lap events designated as the N.J. State Criterium championships in Bound Brook on Saturday.
On Sunday night 200-yard straight line sprints were held under the lights down Somerville’s Main Street as a prelude to Monday’s events. Some of the nation’s top track cyclists participated in elbow-to-elbow three-block long sprints reaching speeds of 50 mph.
Renowned sports artist James Fiorentino was commissioned to create the official image of the 2019 Tour of Somerville. The original painting will hang at the National Bicycling Hall of Fame in California. Fiorentino was at the race signing print copies of the original painting, with proceeds dontated to the Tour of Somerville.