HP Challenge is world's richest race for women

BOISE, Idaho - Hewlett-Packard Company announces the schedule and prize purse for the 1998 Hewlett-Packard International Women's Challenge, the world's premier cycling event for women. The 15th annual stage race is scheduled to take place from June 16 to 21 with a prize purse valued at $100,000 - the richest purse in women's cycling. This will be the second consecutive year that HP has sponsored the event. More than 100 riders, competing on teams of four, are expected to accept invitations to the race.

The 1998 event will be UCI (Union Cycliste International) sanctioned and held in and around Boise with six stages in six days. The event will include four road races, one time trial and a closed circuit race (criterium) covering 274 miles (439 kilometers) with 25,000 feet (7,600 meters) of climbing.

"We are very pleased to be associated with this event once again," said Doug Johnson, general manager for HP's LaserJet Supplies Operation. "These competitors are not only world-class athletes, they are inspirational in that they strive to be the best in whatever they choose to do."

The scheduling of the HP International Women's Chal-lenge enables the competitors to compete in three world-class races in North America over two weeks (at the U.S. World Cup in Philadelphia on June 7, the Canadian World Cup on June 14 and the Women's Challenge from June 16 to 21). HP will support the event through their Web site, HP Women's Challenge, national television coverage and an advertising campaign.

"I worked with the UCI and the USCF (United States Cycling Federation) to provide an event that offers women cyclists more opportunity for world-class competition, points and prize money," said Jim Rabdau, race director for the event. "If we want to continue to attract women who are working professionals to the sport of competitive cycling, we must accommodate their schedules and their pocketbooks."

This invitational event has attracted top individuals and teams from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Finland, Belgium, Germany, China, South Africa, France, Sweden, England, Korea, Denmark, Czech Republic, Norway, Ukraine, Slovakia, Holland and Lithuania. Rasa Polikeviciute (Lithuania) was the overall champion of the 1997 event and raced on the first-place team named HP Mopier.

The six stages take place in the following Idaho cities: Boise, Emmett, Idaho City, Lowman, Stanley and Sun Valley.

The individual stages are: Tuesday, June 16 - Bogus Basin Time Trial (Boise) Wednesday, Sun 17 - Boise to Idaho City Road Race Thursday, June 18 - Sourdough Lodge to Galena Road Race (Lowman/Stanley) Friday, June 19 - Stanley to Ketchum Road Race (Sun Valley) Saturday, June 20 - Statehouse Criterium (Boise) Sunday, June 21 - Hyde Park Road Race (Boise)

The purpose of the Hewlett-Packard International Women's Challenge is to recognize and enhance the accomplishments of women in sports, and to promote an opportunity for women through competitive cycling. Previous Women's Challenge winners have gone on to be top contenders in the Olympics and World Championships.