Kyle Wamsley may be one of the most popular professional cyclists who takes part in the various weekly rides throughout the rolling hills and scenic back roads of the Lehigh Valley.

The Chadds Ford native, who rides for the Colavita/Sutter Home racing team, is looking forward to his chance to finally race on the roads of the Lehigh Valley.

"It's the one of two things that the region is missing," Wamsley saidopined last month while discussing this week's Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling, which kicks off on Tuesday with the Commerce Bank Lehigh Valley Classic. The 12-lap, 85-mile circuit race thatruns through downtown Allentown, out to the Lehigh Parkway, up 24th Street and back up Hamilton Boulevard through center city.

The Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling is a world-class, three stage cycling race that continues with the Reading Classic on Thursday and concludes with the world-famous Philadelphia International Championship, which includes the storied race up the famous "Manayunk Wall."

The formation of the Lehigh Valley Classic marks the first time this national hotbed of cycling is being included as a stage in the Triple Crown, and it is expected to draw 25,000 people, according to Dave Chauner, president of Pro Cycling Tour, the promoter staging the race.

The selection of the Lehigh Valley for one stage of the Triple Crown is long overdue because the area is renowned throughout the country for producing a number of professional and top level cyclists, as well as world-class international racing every summer at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown.

"We have a velodrome [the VPCC]," the 28-year-old Wamsley said. "Now with the Lehigh Valley Classic, we not only have a big race, we have a world class international race. It's something the area has been missing for far too long. Now the only other thing we need is a major training center, and this would be an epic place for people to ride and train year-round."

All-Pennsylvania event

That the Lehigh Valley was bypassed on the Triple Crown circuit was not lost on Chauner, who founded the organization along with Gerry Casale and Jack Simes in 1985. Chauner and Simes were the original directors of the velodrome in Trexlertown known as the Valley Preferred Cycling Center.

The Philadelphia race began in 1985 as the USPRO Championships. The event turned into the Triple Crown series in 1992, adding circuit stages in Lancaster and Trenton, N.J.

"After Wachovia dropped out as the name sponsor and Commerce Bank and the state of Pennsylvania got on board, we added Reading to replace Trenton in 2006," Chauner said.

'Let's make this happen'

The Lancaster contract had come up for renewal, and the organizers there wanted a little more control over the dates to coincide with other events in Lancaster, according to Chauner.

In the meantime, Joe McDermott, a former reporter for The Morning Callwho had been working for Allentown mayor Ed Pawlowski and currently works for the Lehigh Valley Economic Development CorporationCorp., had been in contact with Chauner and Casale, pitching the Lehigh Valley as the perfect site to replace Lancaster.

"With Lancaster up for renewal, we wanted to see if Allentown was interested," Chauner said, "and Joe McDermott really got on the band wagon and said 'Let's make this happen!' "

McDermott, a longtime cycling enthusiast, literallyhopped in his car and rode out a route or two before pitching the course the cyclists will compete on Tuesday.

The Triple Crown

The Commerce Bank Triple Crown consists of three individual men's races: The Lehigh Valley Classic (85-mile circuit) on Tuesday, the Reading Classic (75-mile circuit) on Thursday, and the Philadelphia International Championship (156-mile circuit). It also includes a Triple Crown for women: 25-mile pro races Tuesday and Thursday and the , along with the women'sLiberty Classic (57.6-mile circuit) on Sunday.

"We created the professional championship in 1985 in Philadelphia when we started the first race," Chauner said. "Gerry Casale, Jack Simes and I founded the race. What was lacking in the U.S. at that time was a marquee, signature national event for the professionals. Road racing was small at the time, but we secured Philadelphia, with CoreStates Bank as the sponsor."