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A series of domestic and international sprinters will convene at the upcoming UCI 1.HC TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship held on Sunday. The crowds will not be disappointed in the showdown of speed, should the race hold true to tradition and conclude in a bunch kick outside the famed Art Museum.
The 26th annual one-day classic is one of the most well-attended and prestigious events held on US soil. The professional men will start the race outside the Art Museum and complete three parade laps of Logan Square before taking on ten large loops that include Manayunk Wall, Strawberry Mansion and Lemon Hill, followed by three short finishing circuits for a total of 250 kilometres.
The race has historically concluded in a dramatic bunch finish, last year, won by Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad). Although he is not here this year, his teammate Leigh Howard is eager to nab a win for themselves. "Leigh [Howard] has been in the U.S. since the Tour of California and he's quite focused for a win," Peiper says, "He was with [Matt] Goss last year when he won, and now Leigh has a good chance."
However, they will be up against some steep competition with from other international-level sprinters including multiple-time Tour de France stage winner Jaan Kirsipuu (Champion System) from Estonia and multiple-time Amgen Tour of California stage winner Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) from Slovakia. Other potential race winners include riders from Professional Continental teams including rising talent Aldo Ino IIesic (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis) from Slovenia, veteran fast-man Robert Forster (UnitedHealthcare) from Germany and Keven Lacombe (SpiderTech p/b C10) from Canada.
The Continental teams registered for the race will also be vying for good position should the race come down to a bunch gallop around Logan Square. Local rider Kyle Wamsley (Bissell) will be looking to take the top step on the podium in front of his hometown fans. He recently took the bunch sprint for fifth place at the USA Pro Cycling Championships held last weekend in Greenville, South Carolina. But there are a series of other strong sprinters that will no doubt be in the mix.
"I have a lot of confidence coming off of US Pro and that is the best I've ever ridden in a single-day race at that length," Wamsley said. "Philadelphia has a bit of an easier course, where the distance will be a big factor, the team has a lot of confidence in me. The better quality field makes for a better result if you can get it. I'm looking forward to racing with a bigger field and I want to sprint against the best guys."
Alejandro and Anibal Borrajo (Jamis-Sutter Home) are proven fast men with a handful of domestic and international victories under their belts. The elder brother Alejandro has place fourth on two previous occasions in 2007 and 2010. "Anibal and Alejandro are feeling really good after the Tour of California," said Jamis-Sutter Home, DS Sebastian Alexandre. "They took a short break and raced Tour of Somerville and Base Camp International just to get their legs going. They feel good and the goal is a podium on Sunday."
Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies) recently put forth a strong performance at the Amgen Tour of California, placing fifth in the stage five sprint in Paso Robles. He admitted that his early season form was geared toward the USA Pro Cycling Championships and the TD Bank Philadelphia Championships. "We came to the Tour of California being realistic about what we could and could not do, it was more of a step toward US Pro and Philly," Candelario said.
Cole House (RealCyclist.com) had a stellar beginning to his season winning a stage of the Redlands Bicycle Classic, the Foothills Road Race and a stage of Sea Otter Classic. He has quickly become one of the most threatening sprinters in the nation.
There is no discounting the next series of riders when it comes to a bunch sprint; Athens Twilight winner Luca Damiani (Kenda/5-hour Energy) Raymond Kreder (Chipotle Development), Ken Hanson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda). But, one rider who has targeted Sunday's event all season is Jonathan Cantwell (V Australia), who was a dominant force on the domestic scene last year.
"Jonathan is confident but I wouldn't say that he is in top form by any means," said V Australia DS Henk Vogels. "But between he and his teammate Aaron Kemp, they are our guys for tomorrow. He came to the race and didn't finish and then came back and did really well, so he is motivated for this year."
Fred Rodriguez (Exergy) is a proven winner on Logan Square, winning the race outright in 2001. The event was held in conjunction with the USPro Championships for whereby the first American to cross the line won the national title. Rodriguez won the stars and stripes jersey on three occasions in 2000, 2001 and 2004.
"This race brings back a lot of good memories and the first time I was on the podium there was in 1996," Rodriguez said. "I have high ambitions for this weekend. I have come into this race and have either won or been on the podium in the past."