NEW WINNER, SAME TEAM FOR
TD BANK PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL CYCLING CHAMPIONSHIP
Philadelphia (June 5, 2011) – Even though the HTC-Highroad team did not send defending champion Matt Goss to the race this year, his team still proved to be the strongest as Alex Rasmussen of Denmark took over the title winning the field sprint with a finishing time of 5:59:04.6, ahead of Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Robert Förster (UnitedHeathcare).
“It was not exactly what we planned but it turned out good,” said Rasmussen about the team's plans to work for sprinter Leigh Howard. Late race mechanicals meant the team had to improvise with their choice for sprinter. As well the team was short-handed compared to other full squads, meaning that they could not control the race, and especially the final lead-out, like in previous years.
“We could not go up and control the race like we normally would, so we had to count on the other teams like Liquigas and UnitedHealthcare to work as well. Luckily they did and luckily a lot of other teams thought they had a good sprinter too. It was going to come down to a sprint.”
This was the first time Rasmussen has raced in Philadelphia and he said the type of course suited him well. “I like the race and The Wall — it's not too hard for me so I can get over it, because it's not that long and only a short steep climb.”
Finishing second for the second year in-a-row was the odds-on favorite Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale.) Like Rasmussen his team was short-handed entering the race, and was down another rider as American Ted King crashed-out early in the race.
“It was very difficult because we had only six riders and one rider crashed, so after that we only have five for the finish,” Sagan said.
In third was German Robert Förster who races for the U.S.-based UnitedHeathcare team. The team was the strongest entering the final kilometer but the lead-out came too early for him in the rush to the line.
“The boys made a very good lead-out,” he said. “They worked for me all day and I even had a crash once on the wall. But the lead-out was a little too early. I started the sprint a little too early and it was a headwind, so they caught me five meters before the line. But this is the sport and thanks to my teammates for doing a perfect job today.”
This was also the first time racing here for Förster, who really enjoyed the atmosphere that the locals brought to the race, especially in Manyunk.
“It's a very nice race — there are so many people here and they have so much fun. This is what cycling needs. We need more races like this with people standing on the road and having fun. It made for a great feeling climbing the wall!”
The entire race began with a main breakaway followed later by several attacks and reshuffling before culminating in a final rush to the line by more than 100 racers.
Glen Chadwick (Pure Black Racking) made the first significant attack on the day, going solo and building an advantage of 90 seconds before four more riders bridged the gap to him. This group of five built an advantage of nearly ten minutes before the Liquigas and UnitedHealthcare teams started putting in some efforts for the chase.
In the breakaway was Alex Hagman (Jelly Belly) who used his placement in the break to take the most points in the King of the Mountain competition.
“We just wanted some television coverage and if we get in the breakaway then maybe go for the KOM,” said Hagman. “I lucked out and it worked in my favor.”
Hagman said he enjoys racing this race every year because of the fans that come out to the race each year. “The Philadelphia fans could not be more fun. They are loud and rowdy, it's one of my favorite races of the season for sure!”
The gap of the breakaway was steadily decreased until it hovered under two minutes. At this point the attacks started coming out of the field with riders sensing the break tiring. Four more riders bridged the gap and a group of eight seemed to reinvigorate the breaking, including multiple Tour de France racer Francisco Mancebo (Team Realicyclist.com) of Spain.
The UnitedHealthcare team led the way into the final sprint working for German sprinter Robert Förster, but the lead-out was a little too early and he was overtaken by Rasmussen and last year's second place Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) who took second again.
TOP FIVE FINISHERS:
1. Alex Rasmussen, HTC-Highroad
2. Peter Sagan, Liquigas-Cannondale
3. Robert Förster, Team UnitedHealthCare
4. Ken Hanson, Jelly Belly Cycling p/b Kenda
5. Jure Kocjan, Team Type 1 – sanofi aventis
For the full list of results, <http://procyclingtour.com/sendstudionx/link.php?M=11113&N=141&L=46&F=H>click here.
For finish line and podium photos plus further information on the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, visit www.procyclingtour.com.