The Philadelphia International Cycling Classic men's race will kick off on June 5 in Pennsylvania. It was upgraded from a UCI 1.2 to a 1.1 this year and is set to attract a strong international and domestic field. Defending champion Carlos Barbero Cuesta, who is returning to racing after suffering a broken collarbone in April, will be on the start line with his Caja Rural Seguros-RGA squad.
"I'm very eager to return to racing with the team after being out for one and a half months, which feels like a very long time," said Barbero, who sustained the injury during a crash at the Tour of Turkey. "Finally, I can do what I love to do again. Step by step, I aim to return to the level I had in my last races".
The men's race, held in conjunction with the Women's WorldTour event, will start a top Manayunk Wall at 8:00 a.m. local time. Live streaming of both events will be available on Cyclingnews.
The race is held on the same classic, one-day course, as it has been for the past 31 years. Although for much of those years it finished on a fast and flat run-in, following Logan Circle, along Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which catered to the sprinters.
For the last three editions, the race has finished at the top of the circuit's main climb on Manayunk Wall. The peloton drops off The Wall and follows a 19.7km circuit that included climbs over Lemon Hill, Strawberry Mansion and flat sections along Kelly Drive. The men will race for a total of nine laps and around 173km.
During the 2015 Philadelphia International Cycling Classic, Barbero sprinted from a small breakaway group to take the victory ahead of Michael Woods (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Toms Skujins (Hincapie).
The team went on to win stages at the Tour de Beauce as well, proving a successful trip to the US. Caja Rural Seguros-RGA director José Miguel Fernández said he and the team were looking forward to their trip to the US again.
"We're very excited to be back in the US. Aiming to repeat last year's victory is an extra motivation for us in one of our most important races this season. This year, we can't count on the surprise factor anymore. It will be a difficult race and our rivals won't make it easy for us. However, we come here with a strong team and we are ready to fight for glory until the end."
Even though he is returning from injury, Barbero will still be one of the favourites on the start line. Woods and Skujins will not be participating as both riders secured contracts with the WorldTour team Cannondale for the 2016 season.
Fifth place last year, Daniel Jaramillo will not be on the start line with his team UnitedHealthcare as he is racing at the Tour of Japan, but sixth placed Danny Summerhill will be representing the team again. The team's former two-time winner in 2013 and 2014 Kiel Reijnen, has also moved up to the WorldTour with Trek-Segafredo this year.
Another contender for the victory is Ryan Roth (Silber Pro Cycling), who was eighth last year but comes to this year's edition in top forming having just won the UCI event at the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic. The team also has Redlands Bicycle Classic winner Matteo Dal-Cin.
Jamis-Sutter Home will field a number of potential winners with Janier Acevedo, Sebastian Haedo, who was 13th last year, Eric Marcotte and breakaway rider Luis Amaran.
One of the most aggressive and strongest teams on paper is the development team Holowesko-Citadel, fielding Travis McCabe, Oscar Clark, Robin Carpenter and Andzs Flaksis.
Team Illuminate has a strong climber in Flavio de Luna while Rally Pro Cycling has former WorldTour rider Danny Pate with strong teammates Will Routley and Jesse Anthony.
Chris Horner, a staple on the Philly circuit, will once again make his appearance under the Lupus Racing banner but he doesn't consider himself a favourite as he is still recovering from a round of antibiotics needed to correct a lung infection. History has shown him to be a strong breakaway contender, nonetheless.
Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis has a double-edged sword with Morton brothers, Angus and Lachlan, who recently won the overall title at the Tour of the Gila.
The strong contingent of domestic teams also includes Elevate, Cylance-Incycle, Astellas, and Canadian teams H&R Block and Garneau Quebecor, with breakaway rider Bruno Langlois.
While the series of international teams includes Amore&Vita, Irish national team, which had success at An Post Ras, and Cycing Academy with Guillaume Boivin and Chris Butler.
On Cyclingnews, you can watch live streaming of both the men's UCI 1.1 event beginning at 8 a.m. and the Women's WorldTour event at 12:30 p.m. EST.