By Laura Weislo and Mark Zalewksi
Ina Teutenberg (T-Mobile) made it three for three in the Triple Crown series, winning the 56-mile Liberty Classic in a bunch sprint Sunday morning in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Teutenberg finished ahead of fellow German Regina Schleicher (Nuernberger) and Gina Grain (Team Expresscopy).
Juan Jose Haedo (Team CSC) took advantage of the T-Mobile team leadout in the men's race to sprint to victory. Based on his experience last year, Haedo knew where to jump his challengers and took the final race of the Commerce Bank Triple Crown ahead of teammate Matt Goss and the overall winner Bernhard Eisel (T-Mobile).
Teutenberg took advantage of a long finishing straight to beat last year's winner Schleicher. "My team-mate [Kate Bates] attacked with 500m to go and the other teams had to react," explained Teutenberg, "It put me in a perfect position. I was able to follow the others, got on Regina's wheel, and was able to surprise her in the sprint."
Teutenberg steps into the history books with her hat-trick in Pennsylvania, where she became the only rider ever to win all three races since Lance Armstrong's three-peat in the CoreStates Championship in 1993.
On the way to victory, Team T-Mobile carefully marked all break attempts.
"There were a few world-class riders going for the mountain sprints," explained Teutenberg, "and we couldn't afford to let someone like [Kristin] Armstrong or Mara Abbott, who raced very well in Montreal, get off the front."
Cheerwine's Laura Van Gilder was another favorite going into the race, but did not fare as well in the sprint, in which she finished sixth. "We wanted to win today, and put in a good effort, but it just didn't work out the way we wanted," said Van Gilder.
It was Haedo's sixth victory of the season. "With two kilometres to go I got behind the T-Mobile guys because I thought it was a really good position. With one kilometre to go I was waiting for them to line it up. I know this sprint - you have to be patient and wait, but not too long. There were some strong guys in front of me but I knew how to pace myself in the end and made it. "
Eisel gave it a go, but said the race was too much for him. "I had good legs all day - but it was a bit much for me. I thought I would have better legs but the last time up Manayunk and chasing down Lagutin I lost all my power for the sprint. Navigators started to ride so I had to ride in the front, and Lagutin attacked like ten times in the last lap just to kill me, so I have to say sorry to the team."
Eisel and his teammate Mark Cavendish almost made it to the line, but Haedo played his tactics right and used the lead-out by Goss to launch him at the pefect time. "They lined it out from the last kilometre.," said Goss. "J.J. and I were on either side of the last [T-Mobile] guy. Then about 250 metres to go I was a couple of guys behind the T-Mobile, so I went. At 175 the first T-Mobile guy started to slow and I got around him. I didn't think I was going to get the last T-Mobile dude until the last 50 metres!"