Idaho's Exergy Tour announces courses for May's 5-day stage race

The Exergy Tour announced the courses for its inaugural women's professional race May 24-28 in Idaho. The race will begin and end in Boise and visit Nampa, Kuna, Garden Valley/Crouch and Idaho City.

"We want the route to be a postcard for the state of Idaho and the Treasure Valley, said Heather Hill, the tour's marketing director. “Idaho isn't just mountains, it isn't just downtown Boise, or lake and river front Canyon County, or small farm communities, it is a mix of all of these and the people that call them home. We have been welcomed by all of these people and plan to show their communities to the world."

Seventeen of the top woemn's pro cycling teams and riders from nine countries are scheduled to compete, including Boise Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong. The event — the highest-ranked women's stage race in North America — is one of the last chances for riders to earn points toward Olympic qualification for the 2012 London Games.

"We tried to create a course that was competitive, but that didn't favor any one type of rider,” said Jeff Corbett, technical director at Medalist Sports, which is overseeing the competition and the technical production of the Exergy Tour.

“We wanted a race that had something for sprinters, something for time trial specialists, and something for climbers. I think we have found that mix, and created a course that showcases all skill sets.”

Course highlights (descriptions provided by the Exergy Tour):

Prologue: Julia Davis Park, Boise, Thursday, May 24 (Overall Start)

The Boise prologue should suit the pure time trialist and give a real indication of who’s hungry to go after the overall win. The 3-kilometer course showcases some of Boise’s most iconic images; starting in Julia Davis Park, and featuring the Boise Train Depot and the visual of the State Capitol at either end of the out and back course.

Stage 1: Start/Finish in Nampa, Friday, May 25

Some of the most beautiful landscape in Idaho will be highlighted on this demanding course where the riders will race by scenic Lake Lowell, rolling hills and vineyards, along the Snake River, tackle some epic “Queen of the Mountain” climbs and spread the energy and excitement around downtown Nampa.

The highlight of Stage 1 is the Queen of the Mountain (QOM) climb on Pump Road. It is a short steep brute of a climb, but what makes it even harder is that there is no descent off the top. It climbs to a plateau and stays on that plateau for several miles. This means that it is harder for stragglers to catch back on and easier for breakaways to form.

Stage 2: Start/Finish in Kuna, Saturday, May 26 (Individual Time Trial)

Stage 2 is a Time Trial for the purists. No climbs, nothing technical, just raw speed. The out and back course will make it possible for riders to gauge their progress against their rivals. This can give a mental boost or be devastating.

Stage 3: Crouch/Garden Valley to Idaho City, Sunday, May 27

Stage 3 is the Exergy Tour's Queen Stage. The mountains will finally come into play in a big way. After a rolling, mostly downhill opening 20 miles the field will tackle the 9-mile climb up Beaver Creek summit followed immediately by the 3-mile climb up to Mores Creek Summit. These back-to-back climbs should truly separate the real players in this year's Exergy Tour and will make sure the winner is a worthy one.

Stage 4: Start/Finish Hyde Park, Boise, Monday, May 28 (Overall Finish)

Stage 4 is a deceptive sting at the end of a long weekend of racing. It seems simple enough, but there truly is nowhere to hide on this day. The hills come one after another starting with the first QOM at mile 4.6 and they don't let up until the last QOM with 5.3 miles to go. In between, the field will have to conquer 2 serious climbs each lap and then rocket back into town. Defending a leaders jersey on this course will be no easy task and the overall winner will need legs and a strong team.

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