SOMERVILLE, NJ – Unity Bank has agreed to a multi-year partnership to serve as Title Sponsor of the Tour of Somerville, the iconic cycling classic that annually attracts thousands of local and tri-state residents, international tourists and competitive racers from around the world to enjoy the oldest major cycling event in the country.
The 74th running of the historic Memorial Day race through the streets of Somerville, the traditional kick-off to the summer season in central New Jersey since before World War II, will expand to a full weekend of events in 2017 with activities designed to enhance the family experience.
“We are truly excited to be a part of the Tour of Somerville because it is a special event for both cycling fans and the community that is an important tribute to our nation’s veterans as well,” said Unity Bank President and Chief Executive Officer James A. Hughes.
“Our new branch at the corner of West Avenue and Mountain Avenue is part of our investment in Somerville. We share the town’s commitment to make Somerville a great place to do business, live and visit,” Hughes said.
The race annually attracts more than 600 cyclists and 15,000 visitors. Arts on Division, a nonprofit organization that supports the arts and cultural events in Somerville and Somerset County, promotes the race and will donate a portion of the Tour proceeds to local nonprofits.
This year the Tour of Somerville will feature a live stream that will be viewable on a number of platforms including YouTube and Twitch. Various cameras will be positioned at strategic locations throughout the race course.
Each year, several countries are represented in the race, including the Canadian women's team that won in 2016 and team Guyana which have had a number of countrymen attend the race to support their team.
For the first time, people from around the world will be able to watch this classic race event live. The live stream will include Joe Saling's race announcements as well as additional race day coverage.
Professional bike racer and borough bike shop owner Fred “Pop” Kugler organized the inaugural 50-mile Tour of Somerville in 1940. His son, Furman, a past National Cycling champion, won the first two races in 1940 and 1941.
Carl Anderson, a friend of the Kuglers’ won the Tour in 1942. The Tour was suspended from 1943-1946 because of World War II. The Memorial Day race date took on a tragic irony as both Kugler and Anderson were killed during World War II.
Resuming in 1947, the Senior Men's race of the Tour of Somerville was officially renamed the Kugler-Anderson Memorial in their honor.
“Many do not realize the special connection between the race and veterans, but that’s just one of the many reasons we are introducing some changes to the Tour this year,” said Race Director Michael Malekoff, a former competitive cyclist who took over management of the event this year.
“It is extremely appropriate that a committed community partner like Unity Bank is now our title sponsor because the changes we are making this year are all about making the Tour more family-friendly while still paying tribute to the race’s unique history.”
The three-day Tour of Somerville Cycling series for professional and amateur cyclists alike begins with the 18th annual Bound Brook Criterium Bike Race in Bound Brook on Saturday, May 27th with a second race in Raritan on Sunday, May 28th before concluding with the Tour of Somerville through the streets of Somerville on Monday, May 29th.
Footage from the Raritan & Bound Brook races and various events, including the Somerville Memorial Day Parade, will also be shown during the live stream broadcast on Monday. The parade precedes the race Monday morning and ends at the historic “New Cemetery” which is celebrating 150 years of compassionate service.
For race weekend details, please visit www.tourofsomerville.org.
“Unity Bank is honored to be part of this new era for a legendary bike race that has earned the nickname the Kentucky Derby of Cycling,” said Unity Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer Rosemary Fellner.
“The weekend is going to be full of fun for the whole family from the incredibly fast action to live music to kids’ activities. Free admission allows spectators to view all of the races and activities,” she added.