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The nation's top para-cyclists will gather near Milwaukee this summer to compete at the 2018 Para-Cycling Criterium National Championship race, hosted this year by the Tour of America's Dairyland (ToAD), Wisconsin's annual road cycling series that runs from June 21 to July 1.
The national race, which includes hand cyclists and cyclists who are physically and visually impaired, will be held on June 23 at Giro d' Grafton race in Grafton. It will be ToAD's first para-cycling race since the tour was founded in 2009. And it is likely the first para-cycling national championship ever to be held in Wisconsin.
“USA Cycling is excited to award the Para Criterium Nationals to the Tour of America’s Dairyland,” said Chuck Hodge, vice president of operations at USA Cycling. “Awarding these nationals reflects the support that ToAD and southeastern Wisconsin has shown for para and handcycling.”
The race will be part of the second annual IndependenceFirst Handcycling Classic, which takes place during the first four days of the ToAD. Milwaukee-based IndependenceFirst offers resources and programming for people with disabilities.
Handcyclists will compete in three races during the classic for daily race leader jerseys, overall Handcycling Classic winners jerseys and championship, and prize money. The races will take place in Kenosha, East Troy and Waukesha.
“The strength, stamina and pure speed generated by these athletes elevates the entire ToAD series,” said John Haupt, ToAD Handcycling race director said. “Handcycling and Para-Cycling deserve to be included in major bicycle races everywhere. Having them together here at ToAD moves us in that direction. In addition to raising the profile of these sports, hosting the Classic and Nationals puts Wisconsin and ToAD on the map as a destination for para and handcyclists.”
ToAD races will take place in 11 communities throughout southeastern Wisconsin, including downtown West Bend, Janesville, Port Washington, Shorewood, and East Tosa, which is where the series ends. In 2017, ToAD attracted nearly 1,000 racers from more than 40 states and 15 countries, with an average of 450 racers competing daily. It also attracted an estimated 100,000 spectators that attended races other special race-day events.