The 26th annual TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, run in conjunction with the women's Liberty Classic, has once again assembled a top-notch peloton full of both the nation’s best domestic riders and international talent. The two marquee events are set to kick off 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. Starting on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, outside the Art Museum, the professional men will complete three parade laps around Logan Circle before shooting off onto a 23.3-kilometre circuit heading 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.
After ascending the Manayunk Wall, 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 men’s race will complete ten large circuits and end with three shorter finishing circuits of five kilometres each, that include Lemon Hill, for a grand total of 250 kilometres.
Who can win on the streets of Philadelphia
The professional men’s race will include two ProTour Teams with Liquigas-Doimo and HTC-Columbia. Both squads are entering the stateside event highly motivated after successful stage racing campaigns in both the Giro d’ Italia, won by Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) and the Amgen Tour of California, won by Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia). Although neither of these two riders will be racing in the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, both of their teams will start riders capable of victory.
HTC-Columbia had a strong performance in last year’s event taking first and second places on the podium with winner André Greipel and runner-up Greg Henderson. This year Matt Goss, fresh off of a stage win in the Giro d'Italia, will no doubt want to win the grand prize in Philadelphia after placing second to his former teammate JJ Haedo while racing for Team CSC two years ago. The squad will also field young American talent Craig Lewis and Australian sprinter Leigh Howard.
Liquigas-Doimo will start its two Amgen Tour of California stage winners, fast-man Francesco Chicchi and Slovakian neo-pro Peter Sagan, who won two stages along with the Best Sprinter and Best Young Rider jerseys. The team is reinforced with Fabio Sabatini, Tiziano Dall’Antonia and Alessandro Vanotti, all finishers of the recently concluded Giro d'Italia.
The Professional Continental BMC Racing Team will send a strong, predominantly American squad that includes US Professional Criterium Champion John Murphy. Other international contenders include the Amore e Vita squad and the Danish National Team
On the domestic side, the National Racing Calendar (NRC) team leaders Jamis-Sutter Home p/b Colavita will support the series’ individual leader Luis Amaran along with sprinters Ivan Dominquez and Alejandro Borrajo. UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis will field a strong team led by Australia's Rory Sutherland who finished seventh overall at the Amgen Tour of California. Fly V Australia will send a strong sprint team including Jonathan Cantwell, Bernard Sulzberger and Charles Dionne.
Team Type 1 returns with climbers Valeriy Kobzarenko and Davide Frattini who each won the King of The Wall competition in the two previous editions, respectively. Bissell lost its sprinter Kyle Wamsley to a broken collarbone but will rely on its younger sprinter and last year’s breakaway star Daniel Holloway for a fast finish.
Other strong contenders include Under 23 US National Road Champion Alex Howes (US National Team), Martin Gilbert (SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy), Mike Friedman and Kiel Reijnen (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Andrew Bajadali and Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies), Luca Damiani (Kenda p/b Gear Grinder), Mark Hekman (Mountain Khakis f/b Jittery Joes) and Cody Stevenson (Adageo Energy).