The Wiggle Honda team will come into the first World Cup round held in the United States since 2001, the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic as one of the main contenders for the victory atop the Manayunk Wall.
Although the team has Elisa Longo Borghini fourth in the overall standings, with a solid chance to move into the overall series lead, they intend to put their weight behind Italian sprinter Giorgia Bronzini, winner of the most recent round on Chongming Island.
Neither Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) nor Annemiek van Vleuten (Bigla), first and second in the World Cup standings with 290 and 226 points, respectively, are racing, nor is Wiggle Honda's Jolien D'hoore, winner of the Ronde van Drenthe, who is third. Longo Borghini is fourth with 196, and a win would net 120 points and a result could put her into first, but the Italian says she will support Bronzini.
“Philadelphia is a new World Cup event this year and I'm very excited to race it,” Tour of Flanders winner Longo Borghini said. “I know Giorgia can do a good race there because she did already the race before and I'm ready to support her 100 per cent. It will be my first race in the USA and I'm pretty curious to see how is racing out there!”
The team might find the course to be quite a bit different from 2011, when Bronzini won the Liberty Classic. Rather than crest Manayunk mid-way through the nearly 20km circuit for a flat finish, the course now starts and finishes on the top of the climb. Since the change, American Evelyn Stevens (Boels Dolmans) has won twice in a row, but the World Cup brings a massive leap in the strength of the field, swinging the balance to the strong sprinters.
The team also brings Mayuko Hagiwara, the Japanese champion, who was recently third in both Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik and the GP de Plumelec-Morbihan, both hilly events, American Mara Abbott, Swede Emilia Fahlin and captain Chloe Hosking.
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling for the Philadelphia International: Mara Abbott, Giorgia Bronzini, Emilia Fahlin, Mayuko Hagiwara, Chloe Hosking and Elisa Longo Borghini.