Cyclists from around the world are gearing up to climb the Manayunk Wall at the Philadelphia Cycling Classic, a UCI 1.1 men’s event held on June 1 in Pennsylvania. Last year’s winners Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon) and Keil Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare) will be on the start line to defend their titles.
The event is only in its second edition but is widely popular amongst the US peloton, having replaced the cancelled Philadelphia Cycling Championships and Liberty Classic for the first time last year. Although new race organizers created a new course, they kept the previous one’s main attractions: Lemon Hill, Strawberry Mansion, Kelly Drive and of course — Manayunk Wall.
The men’s field will race along a 19.2km circuit, completing 10 laps for a total of 192km, and the women will race five laps totaling 96km. The major change? For the second time, the race starts and finishes at the top of “The Wall,” favoring the powerful climbers more than the pure sprinters as it did with the previous finish along Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where riders like Matthew Goss, Andre Greipel, Juan Jose Haedo, Greg Henderson and Fred Rodriguez, and for the women Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Giorgia Bronzini, Regina Schleicher and Petra Rossner, were all successful.
Stevens returns to conquer “The Wall”
Last year, Stevens took the victory ahead of Joëlle Numainville and Claudia Häusler. She’s back with hopes of winning the race again with strong teammates in Carmen Small, Tayler Wiles and Karol-Ann Canuel but it won’t be easy with roughly 140 riders registered to compete.
Tough competition coming from riders like Alison Powers (UnitedHealthcare), who is now a triple US champion in the criterium, time trial and road race following her stunning performances at the USA Cycling Professional Championships last weekend in Chattanooga. She comes equipped with a strong team with riders like Mara Abbott, a two-time Giro Donna winner, and Katie Hall.
Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies also has a series of strong riders in Numainville, Lauren Hall and Janel Holcomb. Tibco-To The Top has strong riders in Jo Kiesanowski and Patricia Schwager. Amber Neben will also be racing for the top spot on the podium with her team FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore. Colavita-Fine Cooking has brought Canadian pursuit specialist Laura Brown. Shelley Olds returns with her Ale Cipollini squad and Anna Zita Stricker will lead the Astana BePink team.
The race is only one of two UCI-sanctioned events in the US for elite women, alongside the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic that was held in April. They will be racing for equal prize payout compared to the men for a total of $31,000, along with $5,000 for the QOM. The top under-23 rider will receive the Miji Reoch Award.
Women’s UCI teams include Astana BePink, China Chongming Giant Champion System, Forno D’Asolo, Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, Specialized-lululemon, Tibco-To The Top and UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team.
Women’s elite teams are Colavita-Fine Cooking, CRCA/CityMD, EPS/CSS/Riptide, FCS/Zngine p/b Mr. Restore, LG Factory Team, Mellow Mushroom, MidAtlantic BZH/Hilltop, NCCH p/b DEC Express, Peanut Butter & Co-Human Zoom, SAS Mazda-Macogep p/b Specialized, Stan’s NoTubes p/b Endurance Werx, Stevens Racing, Twenty16 and Zimmer Capital.
For those interested in learning more about women’s racing, Robin Farina and the Women’s Bicycle Association along with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s Women’s Bike PHL are hosting a meet-and-greet with some of the top female cyclists competing at the Philadelphia Cycling Classic. The event will take place on Saturday, May 31 from 11:30am to 1:00pm at Cadence Cycling and Multisport. The event is sponsored by Fuji Bikes.
Reijnen aims for a repeat win
This year, Reijnen returns with backing from teammates Marc de Maar, who recently placed second overall at the Tour of Norway, Paris-Roubaix breakaway rider John Murphy and La Flèche Wallonne breakaway rider Jonny Clarke.
UnitedHealthcare riders will have their work cut out for them in trying to contain opponents like Will Routley (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), who recently won a stage and the King of the Mountain competition at the Tour of California, and Jesse Anthony, who was runner-up last year. Joseph Rosskopf (Hincapie Sportswear Development) is also on target to have a good performance after winning the Redlands Bicycle Classic, and he placed third last year.
Blaz Jarc (NetApp-Endura), Javier Megias Leal (Novo Nordisk), Jonathan Cantwell (Drapac Professional Cycling) are also strong contenders among the professional continental teams in attendance. Michael Woods will lead the Amore & Vita team after respectable performances this spring on the Italian circuit.
Christina Watches-Dana’s Stefan Schumacher will make an appearance on the start line. The German cyclist won Amstel Gold and secured the bronze medal at road worlds in 2007, along with a stage win at the Giro d’Italia the previous year. He served a suspension for testing positive during the 2008 Tour de France and Olympic Games and retuned to the sport in the 2010 season.
Jamis-Hagens Berman is bringing series of notable climbs with Robbie Squire, Daniel Jaramillo and Matt Cooke. Team SmartStop's presence at the race will not go unnoticed with its new national champion Eric Marcotte and runner-up in the road race Travis McCabe, who are expected to race aggressively.
The men will be racing for $31,000, along with $5,000 for the KOM. The top under-23 rider will receive the The Jerry Casale Memorial Award.
Men’s pro continental teams include Drapac Professional Cycling, Team NetApp-Endura, Team Novo Nordisk and UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team.
Men’s continental teams include 5-Hour Energy-Kenda, Airgas Pro Cycling, Amore & Vita Selle SMP, Astellas Cycling, Champion System-Stan’s NoTubes, Christina Watches Kuma, Budget Fork Lifts, Hincapie Sportswear, Incycle -Predator Components, Jamis-Hagens Berman, Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis, Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, Quebecor Garneau, Silbor Pro Cycling and Smartstop p/b Mountain Khakis.
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.
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