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Liberty Classic brings back world-class peloton

By:
Kirsten Frattini

Defending champ Ina-Yoko Teutenberg seeks fourth victory

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg won the Liberty Classic for the third time in 2009 and is back to defend her title.

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg won the Liberty Classic for the third time in 2009 and is back to defend her title.

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The 15th annual Liberty Classic, run in conjunction with the men's TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, has once again assembled a top-notch peloton full of both the nation’s best domestic riders and international talent. Both the women's and men's races take place in Philadelphia on Sunday, June 6.

This year’s event secured a brand new three-year deal with title sponsor TD Bank, an agreement worth every penny after last year’s near fall into the world-wide economic crisis. Pro Cycling Tour, event organisers, further boosted the race with a three-year partnership with Comcast SportsNet television broadcasting with simultaneous airtime on Versus.

The race is an iconic event in the history of American cycling and the course served as the men's US Professional Road Championship from its inception in 1985 through 2005.

The 23.2-kilometre circuit starts on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, outside the Art Museum, rounds Logan Circle and then heads north on Kelly Drive toward the Manayunk district.

The course is one of the toughest on American soil, best known for its wildly crowded, steep climb up the Manayunk Wall, a short 800-metre leg breaker commonly known as "The Wall", that takes its toll lap after lap.

The peloton then negotiates a high-speed and technical descent for a return trip on Kelly Drive from where it takes two diversions to tackle additional climbs up Strawberry Mansion and Lemon Hill.

After descending off of Lemon Hill the lap finishes on Benjamin Franklin Parkway following the out-and-back around Logan Circle.

The women's peloton will complete four laps for a total of 92.8 kilometres.

Who can win on the streets of Philadelphia

Defending champion Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (HTC-Columbia) will no doubt want to win her fourth title in the Liberty Classic. The 35-year-old German has won the event on two other occasions in 2007 and 2005. Teutenberg will rely on the strength of her tough-to-beat teammates Evelyn Stevens, Kim Anderson, Chloe Hosking, Linda Villumsen and Adrie Visser.

The women’s race will also be highlighted by the return of French legend Jeannie Longo, guest riding for the Team Colleen-Summit Velo squad.

Teutenberg will also receive some tough competition from her compatriot Trixi Worrack (Noris Cycling), a former winner of France's Tour de l'Aude and silver medalist at the 2006 UCI Road World Championships.

In 2009 US domestic sprinters rounded out the podium behind Teutenberg with runner-up Joanne Kiesanowski (TIBCO) and third placed Shelley Evans (Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12).

Kiesanowski will return with a powerful team that includes US National Road Champion Meredith Miller and sprinter Brooke Miller. Evans will have the support of her teammate and climbing sensation Mara Abbott, a stage winner and second overall at this year's Tour de l'Aude, along with Lauren Tamayo, a member of the US team pursuit squad which set a new world record at the Panamerican Track Championships in mid-May.

Other strong contenders include NRC leader Alison Powers (Vera Bradley Foundation), Cath Cheatley and Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Colavita-Baci p/b Cooking Light) and former world time trial champion, Amber Neben (Webcor Builders), along with teams Nanoblur-Gears, Verducci Breakaway Racing, BMW-Bianchi, Specialized Mazda Samson Conseil, Specialized D4W/Bicycle Haus, Performance Bicycle, NEBC/Cycle Loft/Deveonshire Dental, Kenda, HumanZoom/PBR, Fruit 66/Artemis, Equipe du Quebec and Equipe Cascades-ABC Cycles.