For the first time since women started racing in the Alexian Brothers International Cycling Classic Tour of Elk Grove, the race will be nationally televised just as the men's race is each year, Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson said.
The 8th annual tour takes place Aug. 2 through 4 on village streets. It features 16 professional and amateur races, including professional men's and women's three-day, three-stage races. Last year's professional races drew roughly 100 men and 60 women cyclists.
The tour's professional men's race is one of just five races in the U.S. that earned the highest racing designation from the world governing body for sports cycling, Union Cycliste Internationale. The professional women's race is on USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar.
It's the only women's cycling event in the country that will be televised for one full hour, just like the men's race is currently, said Johnson, race director.
It costs the village roughly $520,000 to put on the tour, which is funded entirely through participant fees, sponsorships, and revenues from the village's 1 percent hotel/motel tax, which can only be used for the bike race. The production cost for filming the two races is roughly $48,000, Johnson said.
Comcast will televise both races three times nationally, five times regionally, and once internationally. The deal includes television spots for sponsors and the village's promotional advertisements, Johnson said.
This year, the pro women's courses will be longer and comparable to the men's races -- Stage 1 is a 4.5-mile time trial; Stage 2 is a criterium race; and Stage 3 is a circuit race.
Johnson said the women's overall race purse is roughly $1,500 less than last year's at about $17,500.
"We are still one of the top purses (for women) for three-day, three-stage races," Johnson said. "We put money into the exposure and the women are very thankful for that. Women need the national exposure and that's what we're trying to give them."
The overall prize purse for the professional men's tour is slightly more than $40,000. That also has gone down from last year when it was nearly $50,000.
Johnson said with the UCI designation for the men's race beginning last year, the village is required to pick up more of the cost of bringing professional UCI ranked racers and their support staff here -- such as the cost of airline fare, hotel stay, meals and other expenses -- which reduces the men's purse.
"That's normal protocol for UCI races," Johnson said. "Our (total) prize money used to be $150,000 for the pros. We are now putting the money more into the television production and cost for the racers. They are not racing for the purse. They are racing for the points. Those points help riders get contracts that determine what they will be paid."