Elite cyclists begin to arrive in Boise

With the Exergy Tour women's multi-stage bicycle race set to begin Thursday, the world's elite racers have begun arriving in Boise.

Sunday, two members of the German-based Abus Nutrixxion team set out for a four-hour training ride in the mountain above Bogus Basin - getting a lay of the land for the race's toughest stage; Crouch to Idaho City.

"The things that are hard here, things that will make it tough: there's a little bit of altitude and the air's dry," said racer Rachel Neylan.

Perhaps the toughest test of the five-day race will be the competition. Seventeen teams of six riders representing nine countries will compete; many already know they'll compete in the London Olympics and are in the best shape of their careers because of it.

Even without Olympic pressure, a $100,000 purse - the largest ever in women's cycling - has drawn the sport's best to Boise for the inaugural tour.

"It's really created waves among [the] women's cycling fraternity," Neylan said. "It's pretty amazing for us to have a race that has this much prize money."

Idaho renewable energy company Exergy Development Group sponsored the race as well as the team Boise Olympic gold medal winner Kristin Armstrong rides for; ExergyTWENTY12.

Neylan, an Australian native, said the Exergy tour is "bringing Boise to the world," with a race one level below a cycling world cup. That would happen without Armstrong, she said.

"She's really facilitated getting this tour off the ground, which is fantastic.

One of my coaches back in 2008 said to me when I first started, if you want a role model in cycling, you want to look to Kristin Armstrong, and this was before she won the gold medal," Neylan said. "She's world class."

At least based on its competition roster, the Exergy Tour will be world class as well.

For race details, click here.