Attention Rainbow Jersey Seekers

Bikereg_mediumEven if you're in your 60s, there is still hope to someday wear the coveted rainbow jersey in your cycling career.

Winston-Salem, N.C., is hosting the only qualifier in the United States for the UCI Amateur World Championships. It's part of the Tour of Winston-Salem Gran Fondo on Sunday, May 18.

Finish in the top 25 percent of your age group and you're eligible to race in August at the UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT) World Championships in Slovenia.

(Incidentally, Winston-Salem is also hosting two days of UCI and NRC races later this month and is thought to be a potential location for an Olympic cycling training center. Could Winston-Salem be the new Greenville, S.C.?)

Here is the official news release with more details:

Winston-Salem, N.C. - Amateur and masters cyclists in the United States have an opportunity to qualify for the UCI Amateur World Championships at the Tour of Winston-Salem Gran Fondo on Sunday, May 18, in North Carolina.

Non-licensed and USA Cycling license holders are eligible to participate in the 118-kilometer/74-mile race that is one of 15 qualifying events for the UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT) World Championships in Slovenia, Aug. 29-31. Riders who finish in the top 25 percent of their age group automatically qualify for worlds.

"This is a chance for someone to experience true, European-style racing on a professional-quality race course," Race Director Ray Boden said. John Eustice, a past two-time United States pro road champion who serves as the event's technical director, said the gran fondo provides cyclists with the opportunity of a lifetime. "Anyone who has ever dreamed of earning and wearing a rainbow jersey can punch their ticket to Slovenia," Eustice said.

The event is open to cyclists who are at least 19 years old. Entry fee is $70. Qualifying for worlds is by age bracket (19-24, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64 and 65-and-older). The event has a 1,000-rider field limit and will be run under USA Cycling gran fondo regulations. Riders of any nationality are eligible to enter.

Ann Marie Miller of Manhattan, an 11-time U.S. national masters champion and four-time world amateur champion, said the 2012 and 2013 amateur world championship qualifying events in Lenox, Mass., and Putnam County, N.Y., respectively, exceeded expectations.

"Those venues were world-class with spectacular courses that were challenging, but inspiring," Miller said. "The Winston-Salem event promises to continue that level of excellence. The UCI World Amateur Championships have allowed me to become a world champion and have been a wonderful opportunity to experience the world community of cycling."

Winston-Salem is the only opportunity for cyclists to qualify for worlds in the United States and one of only two UWCT events in North America. The city is already playing host to two days of competitive professional racing later this month when the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic features both UCI and USA-Cycling events on the National Racing Calendar and National Criterium Calendar. Winston-Salem also served as a regular stop on the Tour DuPont in the 90s.

"We want to grow this event into the best qualifier for the world championships," Tour of Winston-Salem Executive Director Dr. Richard Rauck said. "The city of Winston-Salem, with its rich history for cycling and recognized as the city of arts and innovation, is prepared to make every participant's visit enjoyable and worthwhile. Cyclists will find the terrain in our region provides some the most beautiful and enjoyable cycling roads in the country."

Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem serves as lead sponsor. The event supports the Childress Pediatric Institute for Pediatric Trauma at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and the Sceptor Pain Foundation, a non-profit medical research foundation that funds research in pain management.

For more information on the event, including course maps and registration details, visit the Tour of Winston-Salem's official website, Follow the Tour of Winston-Salem on Twitter: @Tour_of_WS.

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