Shelley Evans (Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12) is confident that her team will be able to pull off a victory under any race scenario at the Liberty Classic held in Philadelphia on Sunday. The Pan American Road Champion will have the full support of her team should the race come down to a dash to the line.
"Knowing that I have a team around me that is very capable of winning this race together as a team is great," Evans said. "I think we have all the cards to play to make it a hard race and to capitalize on that."
The women peloton will complete four laps of a 23 km circuit that includes a climb over the steep Manayunk Wall, for a total of 91 kilometres. The race will finish on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for one last wrap around Logan Square to the finishing straightaway.
Evans will have five teammates that include Mara Abbott, Katharine Carroll, Olivia Dillon, Sinead Miller and Lauren Tamayo. "There are a couple of teams that can dictate the way things will play out. HTC-Columbia is one and so is my team, the teams that can dictate whether or not it is going to be a field sprint," Evans said. "We are prepared if it goes either way, field sprint or break. We have the riders to do both."
In its 16 years of existence, the Liberty Classic has traditionally ended in a field sprint won by some of the most respected female sprinters in the world. One of those sprinters is three-time winner and defending champion, Ina Teutenberg (HTC-Columbia) who will field a team of five riders.
Evans took to road racing with the ProMan-HitSquad and last year where she placed third place at the Liberty Classic. Evans says that after one season of full-time road racing, she is a different rider and better able to handle the pressure of winning bike races.
"Last year I didn’t have a team and that was OK because of the way the race played out," Evans said. "It was one of those races where I was in the right place at the right time and team High Road had four people in the break, content to drive it and I just stayed on their wheel."
"This year, I have more depth and I have evolved on the road," she added. "I’ve ridden in bigger races and bigger situation since last year. I have been at the World Championships, the Giro, Pan American Games. This is the biggest race of in the country. We have some big European riders over here and there is pressure to do well. This race is bigger for me this year and we have a number of cards to play."
Last year the US National Team rewarded Evans for her success with an invitation to the Giro d' Italia Femminile where she placed second in stage eight. This year she received the invitation to the Italian tour months in advance and focused much of her early season preparation around that race held July 2-11. Her final target is aimed at the UCI Road World Championships held on October 2 in Melbourne, Australia.
"I am on the Giro team again this year and I’m looking forward that," Evans said. "That is my goal for Europe this year and I have mapped my season around that. Also, I’ve qualified for the World Championships already by winning the Pan American Road Championships, that was a big weight off my shoulders."