Against the odds, the 2009 TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship and Liberty Classic took place this past Sunday. Podium Cafe was there to catch the action on film. Well, not really. It was actually caught on a bunch of CompactFlash memory cards. But that doesn't flow as well as "catch the action on film", does it? Right then, let's get on with it.
First, what you see here is something of an abridged edition. The full set is 101 photos, which you can view here as a slideshow. Apologies if that's a bit inconvenient. However, it's a choice between that and waiting for me to handcode 101 photos into this post.
As some of you may have picked up on before, I'm not Philadelphia's biggest fan. Something about its absolute dedication to making sure you know that whole "City of Brotherly Love" thing is just a very dark joke, especially when you're on a bike on Kelly Drive. That said? Philadelphia has been a most excellent host to pro cycling, and 2009 marks the 25th year of that. How many other US cities can say that? None, that's how many. So thank you, Philadelphia. Very much.
The day, from a spectator's point of view, starts with the rider sign in. The race hotel is just down Benjamin Franklin Parkway a bit, so it's an easy commute. Above, Colavita-Sutter Home's women are on their way to sign in. Request to race organizers - please don't put the women's sign-in far away from the men's again, making us choose which group we're going to get for good pictures.
Of course, this being Podium Cafe, I know who butters the bread around here. So you get the following:
Quinziato asks, "Do you like my Benna impression, PdC?"
Edvald Boassan Hagan, he is not so worried about what you think.
As you might imagine, Boassan Hagen was quite a draw for the local press and photographers, with almost everyone trying to get "the shot."
The men's call up and line up was something of a hurried affair. So hurried that the women didn't even get a real call up.
But still, a lot of world champ stripes ended up at the front, no? The big story of the women's race was the fact that - despite a 10 minute head start - the women's peloton passed the men's, which is something that had never happened in the history of the race. Colavita Sutter-Home's Tiffany Cromwell said that she quite enjoyed looking over and pointing a bit at the men as they were neutralized to allow the women to pass.
Aside from the fast pace of the women's race, however, it was a fairly straightforward affair. The peloton stuck together for the whole time, with the usual attrition off the back or out for mechanicals. It was only on the last lap that a selection broke away in the last couple kilometers to produce the resulting sprint finish.
Columbia-Highroad's Ina Yoko-Teutenberg took it for the third time, and her team was very happy about it.
They were giving each other suggestions on tactics, here. Easier to do after you've won, I bet.
After the women's race cleared the course, there were a few juniors and youth events. One, for youth in the 12-16 range, was supposed to be a race on the small 2.5km loop. They started under the same banner as the main fields, and even had a moto. Very pro, right? Well, the moto wasn't exactly pro. Instead of leading them around a relatively flat 2.5km loop, he took them onto the full course. That's right, to Manayunk. Some, it turns out, were up to the challenge:
Others? Not so much. If I could have found any of these kids, *those* would have been the interviews of the day. Aside from the photo evidence above (taken by Megabeth) that they made it out to Manayunk, I never saw them again. I hope they made it home . . .
Back in the men's race, the story of the day was Daniel Holloway's soloing for fun and glory. He yo-yo'd off the front for a few hours, occasionally joined by a single chaser, only to be swallowed up by the peloton and spit out the back.
Above, Fuji-Servetto's Ivan Dominguez drives the chase after a 3 man break that tried to escape in the final laps. As with most such efforts, it was doomed, and the peloton came back together for a full on bunch sprint.
Columbia-Highroad just drilled it. Note Greipel sitting back behind Fly V Australia rider.
And Andre Greipel continued his winning streak by dominating the sprint. It looks close, but the head on shot compresses it. Viewed from the side, you can see that he took it by at least a few bike lengths.
More photos from the day - including the sprint sequences for both races, curious professional bags & bottles, and a full selection of portraits of a certain popular team - can be viewed here.
Mark Blacknell for Podium Cafe