Here I am back in Philly to cover the biggest one-day race in America, the 25th TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship and the 16th annual women’s Liberty Classic. My last time here was in 2005 when an ecstatic Chris Wherry attacked on the final climb up Lemon Hill to put a gap on his two breakaway partners to take the win, and he also claimed the US Pro Road Championship which used to be on the line at this race.
You can’t talk about the Philly race without mentioning the Mayanunk Wall, a half-mile climb with a punishing 17% grade and a raucous party. The Wall is in the middle of a neighborhood of young families and students who every year hold a street party while watching the race. Loud and live music, bells, and cheers great all riders fighting their way up.
“If you’ve ever been on the Manayunk Wall on the last two laps of the race, it’s just a wall of sound the entire way up.” said 2005 winner Chris Wherry.
“It gives you goose bumps to go up the wall and have everyone cheer for you.” said two-times winner Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Columbia-High Road)
In each lap, the riders race to the turn right before the wall as positioning is key to try and make it first to the top and the fall from the wall to Lemon Hill. Typically, the race is not won on the Wall as it either comes down to a sprint finish or sometimes a small break makes it, but the Wall is punishing as lap after lap, riders get dropped and then drop out to watch from the sidelines.
Given the history of the race, the pundits are calling for a sprint finish in the men’s race with Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Columbia-High Road) as the favorite to take it, but I think that this year the winner will come from a small break and will not be one of the sprinters but a breakaway artist.
Back to the sprinters, if EBH falters then Columbia-High Road is counting of 2006 winner Greg Henderson and Bernhard Eisel. Other sprinters to watch include Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas), Hilton Clarke (Fuji-Servetto), Yuriy Metlushenko (Amore e Vita), Kirk O’Bee (BISSELL), Sebastian Heado (Colavita/Sutter Home), 2001 winner Fred Rodriguez (Rock Racing), Ken Hanson (Team Type 1), Karl Menzies (OUCH), Alex Candelario and Zach Bell of Kelly Benefit Strategies and more….
In the women’s race, the favorite has to be two-time winner Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Columbia-High Road) who can also count on the insight from her DS Petra Rossner who won the race seven times. Her competition includes the Nurnberger Versicherung team led by Regina Schleicher, Gina Grain (Webcor), Brooke Miller (TIBCO), Team Type 1 duo of Alison Powers and Jen McRae, Shelley Olds (Proman) and of course Tina Pic (Colavita/Sutter Home) and Laura Van Gilder (Jittery Joe’s-Kudzu.com) who have both podiumed twice so far.
Also up for grabs is the King of Mountain award which is won by a member of the early break.
The men will complete 10 laps of a 14.4-mile circuit through Philadelphia, which will include 10 climbs up the 17% grade Manayunk Wall. They will finish with three laps of Lemon Hill and Logan Circle, having logged 156 miles total in one of the biggest special sporting events in the country. Start Time: 9:00am. Approximate finish: 3:10pm (Men’s startlist here)
The Liberty Classic race consists of four laps of a 14.4-mile circuit through Philadelphia with four steep climbs up the grueling Manayunk Wall and is held during the men’s International Championship on the same course. Start Time: 9:10 AM (Women’s startlist here)