Doylestown is the 13th stop on the tour, which winds up June 21 with a race through Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass. Prehn won the 12th race, in Baltimore on Sunday. Coming into Doylestown, his teammate Tom Broznowski is in first place for total points, and their team, Schwinn/Icy Hot, leads in the team standings.
So this weekend will be a busy one for Prehn. It also will provide a good chance for spectators to see some of the best cyclists in the world while watching two very different kinds of racing.
Sunday's CoreStates, sponsored by CoreStates Financial Corp., parent company of Philadelphia National Bank, is a road race that lasts more than six hours. In contrast, the Mayor's Cup is oriented toward spectators who want action and results in a hurry. Called a criterium race, it's run on a short course and lasts about an hour. For spectators, this means that the racers pass by about once every 30 minutes in the CoreStates and once every 60 seconds in the Mayor's Cup.
About 85 professional cyclists are expected Sunday morning at the CoreStates start/finish line on the Parkway near 22d Street. When the race begins at 8:15, they'll make two loops along the Parkway, from Eakins Oval to Logan Circle, and head out Kelly Drive on a 14.5-mile circuit to Manayunk and back. After 10 such laps, they'll do three more loops around Eakins Oval and Logan Circle.
Before they reach the finish line, about 2:40 p.m., they will have made 10 climbs of the "Manayunk Wall," a tortuous stretch along Levering Street that rises about 250 feet in a half-mile.
"It's not long, but it's very, very steep," said Prehn. "It's not the thing that will separate the winner from the person who comes in second or third, but it's definitely the demise of most of the racers."
The wall section will be a block longer this year, to make room for bleachers and entertainment during the race, but David Chauner, executive director of the race, said he did not think the added length would affect the race, because the steepest part of the hill lies below the extension.
Once again, the Prince Co. is sponsoring the Superoni King of the Wall contest. Riders will get points for being among the first to climb the wall during each lap. The rider with the most points after 10 laps is the King of the Wall and gets $2,500.
The Manayunk Wall and the start/finish line are the most popular places to watch the race. But lots of people sit out along the route, watching the cyclists as they pass by and following the action on other parts of the course by listening to the radio or watching television. (Both WIOQ-FM and WCAU-TV, Channel 10, will broadcast the race.)
"They're spending the whole day involved in the event and having parties around it," much as the Europeans do, said Chauner.
From a spectator's point of view, the most exciting part of the race will come near the end. "The pros save everything for the last hour to hour and a half, and spend the rest of the day wearing everybody down," said Chauner.
Since it takes about a half-hour to complete a lap, there will be entertainment on the Parkway while the riders are making their way to Manayunk and back. Laps 2 and 3 will feature the finals of the Prince Sprints, a bicycle race for children; WIOQ's David Dye will spin records in a '50s Flashback during Lap 4; a country-western band will play for Lap 5; a Dixieland band for Lap 6; gymnasts will perform during Lap 7, riders on antique bicycles during Lap 8 and marching bands during Lap 9.
Who will be the riders to watch this year? The Schwinn/Icy Hot team, led by Prehn, is even stronger than it was in 1986, according to Chauner. The 7- Eleven team has "two or three potential winners" in Davis Phinney, Ron Kiefel and Doug Shapiro.
Chauner also noted that some of the foreign teams are very strong. Roy Knickman, an Olympic bronze medalist, will be riding with the Toshiba/Look team from France. The Danish team, which won the team competition last year, also has contenders in Rolf Sorensen and Michael Marcussen. And Jorgen Marcussen, who placed second last year, will be riding with the Prince team
from Italy. Also returning will be Eric Heiden, the Olympic speed skater who won the first CoreStates Championship in 1985.
"There are easily 20 to 25 riders capable of winning the race, and they're supported by some very strong riders," said Chauner. Last year, the 7-Eleven team was favored to win, but this year, "from the standpoint of team strength, the race is much more even than before. As the word is getting out that this is an important race, the Europeans are sending stronger teams and the Americans are preparing more for this race."
Although the race isn't until Sunday, there are race-related activities throughout the weekend.
Tonight, from 6:30 to 8:30, amateur bicycle clubs will tackle the wall in the Molson Light Manayunk Wall Hill Climb. The competition will start at Cresson and Levering Streets in Manayunk.
Also in Manayunk this evening from 6 to 10 is the Main Street Stroll, a festival featuring music, food and a contest for participants dressed in clothes of another era.
The race's starting line will also mark the beginning of the V8 Bikes for Billy event, an 9.5-mile bike rally tomorrow to help free the statue of William Penn atop City Hall from its scaffolding. The William Penn Restoration Committee will receive $1 from each registration fee and a portion of the receipts from sales of commemorative items. The noncompetitive ride begins at 9 a.m. and heads up West River Drive. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. and is $6 for adults, $3 for children 5 to 12. Children under 8 must wear a helmet.
At the other end of the CoreStates course in Manayunk, there will be a Mini Bike-a-thon from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow. Riders have gathered pledges for the number of miles they ride, and their efforts will benefit the North Light Community Center. There will be entertainment and an awards presentation at Pretzel Park.
Tomorrow night, Eakins Oval will be the scene of the Prince Pre-Race Pasta Dinner for competitors and fans. The dinner runs from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and reservations are required (Call: 643-2045).
Throughout the weekend, Cycling Expo '87, an exhibition with more than 60 displays of bicycling equipment and clothing, will be set up under a big top tent near the starting line. It will be open 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. tomorrow and 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.
NABISCO MAYOR'S CUP
"You won't be bored at these races. It's so exciting. There's something going on at all times," said Betsy Davis, the women's champion for 1985 and 1986, the first two years of the race.
To add to the excitement, there are primes (pronounced PREEMS), which are really races within the race for one-half lap. Winners of the primes earn money as well as Grand Prix points.
Davis, who lives in Lavallette, N.J., is in sixth place in the series, and says, "I don't have a chance of winning. It's very, very competitive this year."
In first place for the women after 12 races is Henny Topp of Denmark, who rides for the Celestial Seasonings team. Unlike the CoreStates, which is open only to male professionals, the Mayor's Cup is expected to draw about 85 men and 50 women. The purse on Saturday will be $10,000 for the men and $6,000 for the women.
A bike race, whether a road race or criterium, is a team effort. The rider who is designated to go for the victory will spend much of the race riding behind his teammates. In that position, he'll face less wind resistance and will be able to conserve energy. His teammates will also help by blocking other cyclists, getting in their way or keeping them pinned in the middle of the pack. Although only one person wins the race, there's an incentive for teammates to help out: Many teams divide the prize money among the riders.
Prehn advises spectators to watch for the team tactics in both races. "On Saturday, they'll be able to see team tactics unfold right in front of them. In the race on Sunday, unless they watch it on television, they won't be able to see that, because they'll just be in one spot."
Two announcers will work together to call the Doylestown race so that spectators will know what's happening on the other side of the course. In fact, Davis said that listening to the announcers is as important for spectators as watching.
Music plays during the race, building in intensity with the competition. ''It's like a movie," she said. "The music goes with the situation."
Like the CoreStates race, the Mayor's Cup is free and will be run rain or shine. Opening ceremonies are at 1 p.m. The top 10 finishers from the Baltimore race will compete in one-lap time trials for cash and position on the course. The women's trials are at 1:15, the men's at 1:45. The women's 18- mile race is at 2:30 and the men's 31-mile race is at 3:15.
The race, which is being held in conjunction with the Doylestown Village Fair, runs for 0.7 of a mile around Central Bucks High School West on School Lane, Lafayette Street, West Court Street and Memorial Drive.
For more information on the CoreStates race, call 247-9136; for the Mayor's Cup, 634-3410. In both races, streets that are part of the course will be closed to traffic.