Defending Liberty Classic Champion, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (HTC-Columbia) is hoping to win a fourth career title in Philadelphia on Sunday. The German National Champion displayed good form by recently capturing three stage wins at the Tour de l’Aude in France last month and is poised to use her extensive knowledge of the stateside race to her advantage.
"I got sick at the end of April and had a forced rest," Teutenberg told Cyclingnews. "I came back to shine on Tour de l’Aude again so I am happy with my Spring. I won three stages in Tour de l’Aude so I should be ready for this race. This race is important because we have an American boss, American sponsors and this race has tradition. It is a good atmosphere in this town so it is always good to come and try to win."
HTC-Columbia will field a team of five riders that also includes Kimberly Anderson, Evelyn Stevens, Linda Villumsen and Emila Fahlin. Teutenberg is confident that any one of her teammates is capable of winning the prestigious Liberty Classic.
"We come here to win and that is the main thing, so do a lot of other girls," Teutenberg said. "The plan is to try to win the race and if that happens great but if not, well, someone else was stronger."
"Evelyn and Kim are Americans and they were home before this race," she added. "Evelyn just came off a great Tour de l’Aude and it made sense for her to do this race. Linda came over to do this trip because she doesn’t have nationals at the end of June. Emila was pretty sick with the chicken pox so it was a good way for her to start getting back into races, instead of going to the really hard European races."
Stevens is HTC-Columbia’s newest recruit and fiercest competitor. She kicked off the season with a stage three win at the Redlands Bicycle Classic and went on to place third in stage four at the Tour de l’Aude last month. Last year, she guest rode for several American-based teams and won the Cascade Cycling Classic, Fitchburg Longsjo Classic and a stage at the Route de France while placing second overall to her now teammate Kim Anderson.
Stevens started the Liberty Classic last year with the Velo Classic Tours but did not finish the race. When asked what sort of advice she would give a rider like Stevens, Teutenberg said. "Evelyn doesn’t need to get stronger because she is really strong and proved that at L’Aude. Her weakness is the technical stuff and she knows that. She just has to try to get in the front before The Wall and the rest is fairly easy and all about positioning."
"The main thing is to be up front before The Wall and then she can help just by being there," she added. "Evelyn could be a good breakaway rider, if she is there for The Wall and gets in the right position, I don’t think anyone can drop her. She rode really strong at the Tour de l’Aude and pretty much kept up with Mara [Abbott] most of the time."
Teutenberg believes that whether or not the race comes down to a field sprint is dependent on how each team decides to race. The women will cover four laps of a 23.2-kilometre circuit that starts on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, outside the Art Museum, rounds Logan Circle and then heads north on Kelly Drive toward the steep Manayunk Wall ascent. The peloton will descend back down to Kelly Drive and go over Strawberry Mansion and Lemon Hill before making their way around Logan Square to the wide-open finishing straightaway.
"I like the hill, it is a hill that a sprinter can do because it is short and steep," Teutenberg said. "The sprinters get up that hill with their power and we only have to do it four times so it is not that bad."
"In the past, if the team takes the initiative there could be a breakaway, if not, it will be a bunch sprint," she added. "I think this is such a hard sprint and you can make so many mistakes on the wide straight to the finish line. I think a lot of people can win the race if you come to the finishing stretch, if we get blocked in. It is really a hard sprint, to time it right and get it right. Experience is important."