SOMERVILLE, NJ – Bicycle racers from as far away as California, Texas, Canada and Australia are expected to compete in the Memorial Day running of the 76th “Tour of Somerville on Monday, May 27.
America’s oldest, continuously run bicycle race is a series of races that will attract top amateur and professional cyclists from throughout the world, as well as thousands of spectators to the streets of downtown Somerville.
The featured “Kugler-Anderson Memorial” 50-mile men’s race will begin at 4 p.m. with 200 elite cyclists negotiating a multi-lap, four-turn circuit at speeds of up to 40 mph. Last year’s winner, Olympic team hopeful Shane Kline of Bally, Pa. will return to defend his title.
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.
Throughout the day, cyclists will be vying for more than $25,000 in cash prizes and the honor of winning what many consider to be the “Kentucky Derby” of bicycle racing. Prior to the featured men’s event, preliminary races of varying lengths will start at 10:30 a.m. for USA Cycling licensed cyclists of various age and skill levels. The junior competition for riders ages 15-18 will also be designated as the N.J. State Criterium Championships.
The 25-mile Pro/Category 1 women’s race will begin at 3 p.m. and attract top professional teams from throughout North America. Last year’s winner, Laura Van Gilder, of Cresco, Pa. will attempt to add an unprecedented sixth Tour of Somerville victory to her list of more than 350 career wins.
The Memorial Day races will wrap up a weekend of competitive cycling that includes numerous multi-lap events designated as the N.J. State Criterium championships in Bound Brook on Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m.
On Sunday, beginning at 6 p.m, crowd pleasing 200-yard straight line sprints will be held under the lights down Somerville’s Main Street as a prelude to Monday’s events. Some of the nation’s top track cyclists are expected to participate in elbow-to-elbow three-block long sprints reaching speeds of 50 mph. In between the professional sprint heats, local youth can sign up to participate in age-graded sprints.
Along with a full slate of bicycle racing on Monday, event organizers have planned day-long activities that include musicians, food vendors, educational exhibits, a kid’s play area. The Kid’s Sports & Entertainment Zone with a variety of family fun activities takes place on Main Street in front of the County Courthouse and is sponsored by Atlantic Health System. The live musical entertainment takes place on the Division Street pedestrian mall.