Connecticut-based elite women's team Danbury Audi put forth an impressive performance at the UCI 1.1 Liberty Classic's 98-kilometre road race held on Sunday in Philadelphia. The first-year squad made two podium appearances with Jennifer Purcell, who placed third on the day, and Lindsey Myers, who won the Under 23 Miji Reoch Award.
The team's sprinter Purcell, initiated the sprint to get herself out of a chaotic and at times dangerous wrap around Logan Square and onto the final straight. She placed third on the day after being passed by two veteran sprinters, World Champion Giorgia Bronzini of the Colavita Forno D'Asolo team and Shelley Olds of Diadora-Pasta Zara.
"The finish was a little sketchy and I was further back than I wanted to be, so I just launched it to avoid the swarm," Purcell said. "I saw a gap and kept going. I saw that I was a little further out from the finish than I wanted to be, but I rolled with it and held it off at the podium. I just believed in my jump."
Prior to the bunch sprint, Danbury Audi brought a quality mix of riders to the marquee stateside women's event that also included Myers, Kathleen Billington, Emily Kachorek, Liza Rachetto and Rebecca Wellons. The team rallied together during the closing laps of the race to bring Purcell into a suitable position to sprint for a good result. In the process, Rachetto placed 11th and Myers placed 25th on the day.
"HTC-Highroad and Colavita along with my team got up to the front to try and bring an early breakaway back," Purcell said. "This race was my big goal of the year and all of a sudden there we were. The support of my team was amazing and everyone did a really great job. It was really encouraging having us all in the finish together."
Myers' performance bested the rest of the Under 23 riders in the field and she won the Under 23 Miji Reoch p/b Fuji award. "I didn't know about the Under 23 award," Myers said. "I think I was in the top 20 today. The first priority was to help Jennifer Purcell get into good position for the finish and then after that I just had to try to finish as best as possible."
Manager Greg Wolf ignited the Danbury Audi team in the Fall last year as a test run for the 2011 season. The team competed at the Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont in September, where they captured two podiums and one stage win, and proved to have what it takes to build a strong team in the future.
"This team has been a lot of fun," Purcell said. "We've been riding together and hanging out and to have Danbury Audi and the staff support for us has really made the whole summer for us. It started at Redlands and we proved today that was not just a one-off. We were on the podium again here in Philadelphia. I think that we have a lot of talent and that will grow from the support of Danbury Audi. It's nice to see a smaller team come together and have success."
The team signed Purcell, a rising sprinter who also works as a part-time Radiography Technician in Texas, during the early season where she placed third behind Theresa Cliff-Ryan of Colavita Forno D'Asolo and Christina Gokey-Smith of Rouse Bicycles in the stage one sprint in City of Beaumont.
"Professional bike racing has always been a goal and a dream but I also don't want to let my career fall too far away from me," Purcell said. "I am trying to keep cycling and working balanced, and to continue to work enough to keep my credential so that I can transition back into it easily. I'm trying to both and it can be really hard."