CEDAR CITY — Cedar City this summer will host the first professional women's cycling race to be held in conjunction with the Tour of Utah.
The Cedar City Grand Prix will draw professional female cyclists from around the world on Aug. 4 to compete in the 60-minute criterium, or closed 1.2-kilometer course.
"It will be good for Utah to have women from all over, really from all over the world coming and racing in southern Utah," Tiffany Pezzulo, a professional cyclist who will be riding with her team Vanderkitten in the Grand Prix, said.
Besides the Grand Prix, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah organizers added a Tour of Utah Women's Edition. The circuit race will be on Aug. 6 at Miller Motorsports Park where the third stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah will end.
"We're so excited to have this opportunity," Nicky Wangsgard, spokeswoman for the Grand Prix, said. "We're so excited that there will be two women's races this year during the tour of Utah."
Bobby Cannon, race director for the Grand Prix, said the prize purse is growing daily for the race as is the excitement for cyclists to compete in front of the anticipated crowd of about 25,000.
"Cedar City provides the perfect venue to showcase the talents of the women of professional cycling," Cannon said. "I can't wait to see the excitement of the fans as they watch these amazing female athletes race past them at speeds over 30 mph over and over again."
Wangsgard is looking forward to community support for the race and furthering education of the cycling world.
"When something comes to town (in Cedar City) that's exciting, the whole town comes out," she said.
During the Cedar City Grand Prix, the men will begin day one of the Tour of Utah by completing a long mountain course. The men racing the Tour of Utah and women racing in the Grand Prix will share the same finish and start line.
"We're so, so excited that they're allowing a women's event," Wangsgard said. "We appreciate the opportunity and would love to have more in the future."
Pezzulo said the Cedar City Grand Prix and the race at Miller Motorsports Park will help bridge a "major gap" between men and women's professional racing in sponsorship, following and overall support.
"We just need more to get even anywhere close to where the men's professional cycling scene is in this country," Pezzulo said. "It will be an opportunity for, you know, people that are coming out to see the race to say, oh there are women doing it too."
Wangsgard said the Tour de France is adding a women's stage this year that she believes has set a precedent in the cycling world where professional female cyclists are fighting to race at the same level as professional male cyclists.
"A three-day stage race in the Tour of Utah for women would just be so, so receptive, and would be great," she said.
Wangsgard said they are looking for about 150 volunteers for the race. Those interested in volunteering, sponsorship, or more information on the Cedar City Grand Prix can visit the group's website.