World champion Lizzie Armitstead will not be on the start line alongside her Boels-Dolmans team to defend her title at the upcoming Philadelphia International Cycling Classic on June 5. Despite her absence, the team has two potential winners in their line-up with US road champion Megan Guarnier and two-time winner Evelyn Stevens.
The event marks the ninth round of the Women's WorldTour, of which Armitstead has won three previous rounds; Strade Bianche, Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Cittiglio, and the Tour of Flanders.
Although she won the race last year, the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic was not on her schedule this year as she remains focused on her goals of winning a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio in August.
Boels-Dolmans will have two capable riders in the mix with Guarnier and Stevens. Also on the provisional start list are Karol-Ann Canuel, Katarzyna Pawlowska, Romy Kasper and Chantal Blaak, who won two rounds of the Women's WorldTour this spring.
Guarnier is fresh off a WorldTour win also, having won the overall title at the Women's Tour of California, where she took the lead of the new series. She leads with 504 points ahead of Wiggle High5's Emma Johansson with 398 points and Armitstead with 368. She also won her third national road title in Winston-Salem on Saturday.
"Race organisers moved the Philly finish line to Manayunk three years ago, and since then, only my teammates have won the race," Guarnier told Cyclingnews.
"Evie won the first two years, in 2013 and 2014, and Lizzie won last year."
Stevens, who was second at La Fleche Wallonne this year, has won the race in Philly 2013 and 2014, both held on the new version of the course that finishes on Manayunk Wall. She will be back to try her hand at winning it for a third time.
"While Lizzie won't be back to defend her title, we have three riders that are suited to the finish with Evie, Karo and me, and Kasia is a powerhouse that can provide ample support. We're only four so it won't be easy, but we've had a good run in the States these last two weeks and we're definitely hoping to continue that."
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