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Tour of America's Dairyland Races into its 10th Year

Mitch Teich
Tour of America's Dairyland, East Tosa Gran Prix (2017)

In less than a week, cyclists from all over the world will converge upon Wisconsin. The Tour of America's Dairyland (ToAD) begins its 10th annual criterium cycling race on Thursday, June 21st in Kenosha and continues until July 1st, racing through Southeast Wisconsin. Last year, ToAD drew racers from 42 states and 15 countries according to executive director Bill Koch. In addition to the international cyclists, which will include a team from the Japanese Cycling Federation, many Wisconsin riders will be among the field of more than 1,000 riders. 

Although Wisconsin cyclists' participation in ToAD has decreased from about 65-70% of the field in 2009 to around 35-40%, the race relies heavily on local support, and the founding mission of the race remains strong.

Credit Mitch Teich
Pro rider Gracie Elvin rides to a second place finish at the East Tosa Gran Prix (2017).

The goal has always been to offer a "world class experience to every type of cyclist that races ToAD," says Koch.  

ToAD's appeal, for local, regional, national and internation cyclists alike, stems largely from its community atmosphere and fans. According to Tom Schuler, former World tour cyclist and co-founder of ToAD, they host approximately 200 cyclists in homes all across Milwaukee, "which is a very rich experience for those racers...because they don't get that at every race." The prize money doesn't hurt, either, he notes. The $130,000 in prizes are doled out across the 11-day event. 

Unlike longer stage races, the Tour of America's Dairyland is an 11-day criterium race, composed of many shorter courses of lengths between 0.6 and one mile. The rapidity of criterium races "engages the fans to see the frequency of the riders coming around...every two and a half to four minutes all day long," says Koch, who compares it to "Nascar on two wheels."

Schuler, who has ridden both criterium and road races, says, "riders absolutely appreciate the crowds," and try to harness that energy to finish strong. "Those last few laps, if you don't have a strong adrenaline flow, youre not going to win." 

The Tour of America's Dairyland starts June 21st in Kenosha and includes local races in Bay View, Shorewood, Wauwatosa and Grafton.

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