Alex Rasmussen secured the hat-trick for HTC-Highroad at the TD Bank International Championship, delivering the ProTeam's third consecutive victory on the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rasmussen repeated the performance of André Greipel in 2009 and Matt Goss in 2010 as the 26-year-old Dane prevailed on Sunday in a spirited field sprint finale for his first victory of the season and the biggest road win of his career.
For the second straight year Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) finished as runner-up, while UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling's German fast man Robert Förster rounded out the podium in third place.
HTC-Highroad only started five riders, with 20-year-old Australian Leigh Howard as the designated sprinter, but things went off script just prior to the final ascent of Lemon Hill with three kilometres remaining as the day's final three escapees, Francisco Mancebo Perez (Realcyclist.com Cycling Team), Andrès Miguel Diaz Corrales (Team Exergy) and Bruno Langlois (Team Spidertech Powered By C10) were swept up.
"We were supposed to do the lead-out for [Leigh] Howard but there was a big mess in the end. He almost crashed before the last climb with 3km to go and he was off my wheel," said Rasmussen.
Inside of the final kilometre, the hopes of Canadian Pro Continental squad Team Spidertech powered by C10 were dashed as Kevin Lacombe, Martin Gilbert and Pat McCarty all went down rounding Logan Circle, adding to the chaos in the finale.
"There was a big fight for position before the roundabout, then the crash happened and luckily I was on the inside in front of it so there were maybe 20 guys left for the sprint," continued Rasmussen. "I went back to fifteenth position and went early, using the draft of the other guys to get to the front - it was a long sprint.
"It was not exactly what we planned, but in the end it turned out good."
"It's pretty monumental," added HTC-Highroad directeur sportif Allan Peiper. "We came here with five riders because after the crash in the Giro where we lost [Marco] Pinotti and [Craig] Lewis to broken bones we had a re-shuffle to the selection and came here with a bare-bones team, but five good riders who were motivated."
Rasmussen, a four-time world champion and an Olympic silver medalist on the track in the scratch, Madison and team pursuit disciplines, drew from his experience on the boards to deliver the win.
"The track experience was useful in the end. There was a big fight and I used my seated track sprint because I had so much acid in my legs. I had to sit down a couple of times in the sprint."
Unlike the previous year where Peter Sagan returned to Europe after his impressive Amgen Tour of California debut only to fly back to the United States a handful of days before the TD Bank International Championship, this time around he remained in California to train and arrived with plenty of time to spare on Wednesday. Everything was going to plan for the 21-year-old Slovakian until the final pass of Logan Circle.
"I was very far behind, maybe in 15th position after the turn," said Sagan, who finished fast yet again, but just shy of Rasmussen.
Förster enjoyed the full-support of his eight UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling teammates throughout the 250km parcours which he parlayed into a podium appearance in the US's most prestigious one-day race.
"I thought today I had the legs to win this race and the boys worked for me and gave me the perfect lead-out," said Förster. "After 250km it's a different sprint. We started a little bit too early in the headwind and if I waited 10 metres more maybe I would have got it. They caught me five metres before the line."
In it for the long haul
As the 154-rider field toed the line for the 27th edition of the TD Bank International Championship, conditions were perfect, cool and overcast, for a run at the fastest-ever edition of the race when Argentine sprinter Juan Jose Haedo stopped the clock in 5:45:51.
At the end of the opening 23.2km circuit to Manayunk and back, New Zealand's Glen Chadwick (Pure Black Racing), no stranger to breakaways in Philadelphia, initiated the main escape of the day with a solo attack. As the peloton rolled along Kelly Drive for its second of 10 trips along the Schuylkill River four riders jumped from the field and bridged to Chadwick: Bruno Langlois (Team Spidertech Powered By C10), Alex Hagman (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Roman Kilun (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder) and Quinn Keogh (Team Exergy).
The peloton was content with the composition of the break and the quintet's lead ballooned to six minutes on their third trip to Manayunk and its infamous Wall, the steeply-pitched 800-metre ascent which is the signature feature of the event.
The break enjoyed a maximum advantage of nearly 10 minutes on the fourth trip to Manayunk before the teams of the sprinters began to chip into the lead. Meanwhile, competition for the King of the Mountains classification, where the first three over the Manayunk Wall and Lemon Hill each lap scored points, grew fierce in the break. The escape splintered on the first few ascents of the Manayunk Wall as riders vied for maximum points, but once the KOM became a two-man contest between Hagman and Keogh cohesion prevailed with thoughts of keeping the escape alive as long as possible.
The quintet's advantage dropped precipitously near the race's midpoint and their advantage stood at just 3:20 by the seventh ascent of the Wall. Jesse Anthony and Andrew Bajadali of Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth set a fierce tempo on the Wall in the peloton and drew out Patrick Gretsch (HTC-Highroad), Leigh Howard (HTC-Highroad), Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas-Cannondale), Simone Ponzi (Liquigas-Cannondale), Kevin Lacombe and Pat McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10), Rubens Bertogliati and Javier Megias Leal (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis), Andrew Pinfold (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) and Andrès Miguel Diaz Corrales (Team Exergy).
This dangerous chase group was neutralised as they rounded Logan Circle at the finish of the lap and the peloton set out on their eight trip to Manayunk only 2:10 behind Chadwick, Hagman, Kilun, Langlois and Keogh.
Shuffling of the deck
Francisco Mancebo (Realcyclist.com) rocketed out of the peloton on the Manayunk Wall and was soon joined by Frank Pipp (Bissell Cycling) and Andrès Miguel Diaz Corrales (Team Exergy). By the end of the eighth large circuit the trio had joined the leading five but fireworks were underway behind as a 14-chase group trailed by only 27 seconds with the peloton only an additional 13 seconds in arrears at the start of the penultimate large lap.
Again, the dangerous chase group which contained Timothy Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale), Rafael Valls Ferri (Geox-TMC), Pat McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10), Alessandro Bazzana and Daniele Callegarin (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis), Serhy Hrechyn (Amore & Vita), Andrew Dahlheim and Kyle Wamsley (Bissell Cycling), Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Reid Mumford (Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealth), Jacob Rytlewski (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder), Daniel Barry (Pureblack Racing), Michael Freiberg (V Australia) and Matt Cooke (Team Exergy) was neutralised, while up the road the eight-man break shattered, leaving only Mancebo, Pipp, Diaz and the resilient Langlois in the lead.
Hagman's effort did not go un-rewarded, however, as the Jelly Belly rider claimed the KOM prize by one point over Keogh.
On the final ascent of the Manayunk Wall Pipp cracked while Mancebo, Diaz and an inspired Langlois crested the summit 1:05 up on the peloton.
Three chasers, Scott Lyttle (Pureblack Racing), Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) and Alex Howes (Chipotle Development Team), set out in pursuit of the lead trio on the return trip along Kelly Drive and closed to within 36 seconds of Mancebo, Diaz and Langlois with only the three five-kilometre finishing circuits remaining, encompassing Lemon Hill and Logan Circle.
Lyttle, Anthony and Howes were caught, however, by a charging peloton exactly as they saw the lap card tick down to two to go. The tandem of Mancebo and Diaz, with Langlois in tow, still refused to relent as they held on to a 38-second lead.
But with powerhouse lead-out trains being set up by HTC-Highroad, Liquigas-Cannondale and UnitedHealthcare the catch was inevitable. The trio's margin shrunk to a scant 11 seconds when the bell rung for the final mini-circuit and with only three kilometres remaining it was gruppo compatto, leaving the day's spoils to the sprinters for the sixth straight year.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Alex Rasmussen (Den) HTC-Highroad||5:59:04|
|2||Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale|
|3||Robert Förster (Ger) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling|
|4||Ken Hanson (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Kenda|
|5||Jure Kocjan (Slo) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis|
|6||James Williamson (NZl) Pureblack Racing|
|7||Matthias Friedemann (Ger) Champion System|
|8||Yosvany Falcon (Cub) Realcyclist.com Cycling Team|
|9||Aaron Kemps (Aus) V Australia Pro Cycling Team|
|10||Carlos Eduardo Alzate Escobar (Col) Team Exergy|
|11||Shawn Milne (USA) Kenda presented by Gear Grinder|
|12||Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy||0:00:03|
|13||Hilton Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling|
|14||Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Arg) Jamis - Sutter Home|
|15||Aldo Ino Ilesic (Slo) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis||0:00:05|
|16||Serhy Hrechyn (Ukr) Amore & Vita|
|17||Thomas Scully (NZl) Chipotle Development Team|
|18||Alexander Candelario (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Optum Health|
|19||Frank Travieso (USA) Realcyclist.com Cycling Team|
|20||Danny Summerhill (USA) Chipotle Development Team|
|21||Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis||0:00:08|
|22||Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale|
|23||Bernard Sulzberger (Aus) V Australia Pro Cycling Team|
|24||Daniele Callegarin (Ita) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis||0:00:10|
|25||Daniele Ratto (Ita) Geox-TMC|
|26||Scott Lyttle (NZl) Pureblack Racing||0:00:12|
|27||Joshua Berry (USA) Realcyclist.com Cycling Team||0:00:15|
|28||Bernard Van Ulden (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Kenda|
|29||Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis|
|30||Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) Bissell Pro Cycling|
|31||Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) V Australia Pro Cycling Team|
|32||Javier Megias Leal (Spa) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis|
|33||Luca Damiani (Ita) Kenda presented by Gear Grinder|
|34||Eric Young (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling||0:00:20|
|35||Tommy Nankervis (Aus) Realcyclist.com Cycling Team|
|36||Andrei Krasilnikau (Blr) Chipotle Development Team|
|37||Mical Smit Larsen (Den) Danish National Team|
|38||Robbie Squire (USA) Chipotle Development Team|
|39||Michael Chauner (USA) Team CykelCity|
|40||Jacob Rytlewski (USA) Kenda presented by Gear Grinder|
|41||Joris Boillat (Swi) Champion System|
|42||Robert Sweeting (USA) Kenda presented by Gear Grinder|
|43||Wu Kin San (HKg) Champion System|
|44||Sergio Hernandez (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Kenda|
|45||Benjamin Chaddock (Can) Team Exergy|
|46||Roman Van Uden (NZl) Pureblack Racing|
|47||Andrew Bajadali (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Optum Health|
|48||Simone Ponzi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale|
|49||Karl Menzies (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling||0:00:29|
|50||Juraj Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale||0:00:33|
|51||Hayden Brooks (Aus) V Australia||0:00:35|
|52||Zachary Bell (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10||0:00:37|
|53||Andrew Pinfold (Can) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling||0:00:40|
|54||Jimmy Ronn (Swe) Team Cykelcity|
|55||Andrea Grendene (Ita) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis||0:00:43|
|56||Emerson Oronte (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Kenda||0:00:46|
|57||Menso De Jong (USA) Wonderful Pistachios Cycling|
|58||Alex Howes (USA) Chipotle Development Team|
|59||Andrew Randell (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10|
|60||Jason Donald (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Optum Health|
|61||Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Geox-TMC|
|62||Bernardo Colex Tepoz (Mex) Amore e Vita|
|63||Vladislav Borisov (Rus) Amore e Vita|
|64||Tom Zirbel (USA) Jamis - Sutter Home|
|65||David Blanco Rodriguez (Spa) Geox-TMC|
|66||Timothy Duggan (USA) Liquigas-Cannondale|
|67||Caleb Fairly (USA) HTC-Highroad|
|68||Matthew Brammeier (Irl) HTC-Highroad|
|69||Holger Burkhardt (Ger) Champion System|
|70||Boy Van Poppel (Ned) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling|
|71||Dan Bowman (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Optum Health|
|72||Michael Creed (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Optum Health|
|73||Marko Kump (Slo) Geox-TMC||0:00:52|
|74||Shem Rodger (NZl) Pureblack Racing|
|75||Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis||0:01:56|
|76||Sean Mazich (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Kenda|
|77||Reid Mumford (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Optum Health|
|78||Patrik Moren (Swe) Amore & Vita||0:01:58|
|79||Jonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Team Cykelcity|
|80||Kyle Wamsley (USA) Bissell Cycling||0:02:03|
|81||Quinn Keogh (USA) Team Exergy||0:02:17|
|82||Patrick Gretsch (Ger) HTC-Highroad||0:02:41|
|83||Michael Freiberg (Aus) V Australia|
|84||Leigh Howard (Aus) HTC-Highroad||0:03:09|
|85||Francois Parisien (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10||0:03:31|
|86||Timothy Gudsell (NZl) Pureblack Racing||0:03:38|
|87||Daniel Barry (NZl) Pureblack Racing|
|88||Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) Realcyclist.com Cycling Team||0:03:40|
|89||Andrès Miguel Diaz Corrales (Col) Team Exergy|
|90||Jesse Anthony (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Optum Health||0:03:45|
|91||Ryan Anderson (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10||0:03:53|
|92||Jake Keough (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling|
|93||Taylor Sheldon (USA) V Australia||0:04:11|
|94||Sean Sullivan (Aus) V Australia|
|95||Andy Guptill (USA) Jamis - Sutter Home||0:04:35|
|96||Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling|
|97||James Driscoll (USA) Jamis - Sutter Home|
|98||Ian Burnett (USA) Realcyclist.com Cycling Team|
|99||Bruno Langlois (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10||0:05:15|
|100||John Kronborg Ebsen (Den) Danish National Team||0:06:06|
|101||Alex Hagman (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Kenda|
|102||Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Geox-TMC|
|103||Frank Pipp (USA) Bissell Cycling||0:06:45|
|104||William Dickeson (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Kenda|
|105||Michael James Northey (NZl) Pureblack Racing||1:00:57|
|106||Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA) Team Spidertech Powered By C10|
|107||Eric Schildge (USA) Jamis - Sutter Home||1:10:57|
|108||Iggy Silva (USA) Wonderful Pistachios Pro Cycling|
|109||Marsh Cooper (Can) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Optum Health|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Alex Hagman (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Kenda||45||pts|
|2||Quinn Keogh (USA) Team Exergy||44|
|3||Andrès Miguel Diaz Corrales (Col) Team Exergy||34|
|4||Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) Realcyclist.com Cycling Team||30|
|5||Scott Lyttle (NZl) Pureblack Racing||10|
|6||Bruno Langlois (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10||10|
|7||Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis||5|
|8||Alex Howes (USA) Chipotle Development Team||5|
|9||Francois Parisien (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10||3|
|10||Frank Pipp (USA) Bissell Cycling||2|
|11||Robbie Squire (USA) Chipotle Development Team||1|