SOMERVILLE, NJ - John Chiselko, who won the prestigious Tour of Somerville bicycle race as a 17-year-old high school senior in 1954, has died from complication of the Coronavirus.

He was 83.

In addition to Chiselko the only Somerville resident to win the tour was Furman Kugler, the race founder's son, who won the inaugural 1940 and 1941 races. The Tour was founded by "Pop" Kugler.

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The elder Kugler, who was Chiselko's coach, owned a bicycle shop in Somerville where Chiselko worked.

Chiselko is also the youngest winner of the Tour, a record that still stands today.

He was also a junior national champion and winner of the best all-around rider in the United States two years running, according to Mike Malekoff, executive director of the Tour of Somerville.

Tour of Somerville organizers had announced on Wednesday that the COVID-19 pandemic had forced cancellation of this year's Tour of Somerville series of cycling races, which would have celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2020.

The three-day Memorial Day weekend event draws thousands of spectators who crowd the sidewalks and line the borough's streets, with hundreds of international competitors flying in from all over the world, as well as professional American cyclists and amateurs to compete in the country's longest-running cycling event.

The decision to cancel was made in consideration of the health of spectators and international competitors, and the likelihood that the virus could be spread with thousands of people in close contact.

“This was incredibly difficult decision and was a choice of last resort. As a volunteer-driven event for more than 75 years, the Tour has entertained thousands of spectators every Memorial Day weekend since 1940, with the exception of World War II,” Malekoff, said.
 
The featured Memorial Day event, the Kugler-Anderson 50-mile race for professional and elite cyclists is the oldest competitive bicycle race in the country, having first been run in 1940. The event has become known as "The Kentucky Derby of Cycling" and draws international Olympians and top cyclists from around the world. It was known as the predominant cycling race in America from the 1940s through the 1980s.

The race was suspended or several years during World War II, and there have been occasional rain outs over the years.

For up to date information on the future of the Tour, please check the website www.tourofsomerville.org or Facebook page.