Lizzie Armitstead wins Philly Cycling Classic to regain World Cup overall lead
Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) unleashed her explosive sprint up the final ascent of Manayunk to win the Philly Cycling Classic ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda) and Alena Amialiusik (Velocio-SRAM) on Sunday. With her win in the sixth round of the UCI Women Round World Cup, Armitstead moves into the lead of the UCI Women Road World Cup series, a series she won in 2014. It is Armitstead’s second World Cup win this year, and her sixth victory of the season.
“It’s nice to be able to race in the [World Cup] jersey,” said Armitstead. “It’s an honour. It’s something you only experience a few times in your career and I’m proud to wear it.”
The Philly Cycling Classic, previously called the Liberty Classic, last held World Cup status in 2001. Many of the strongest European-based teams and riders made the trip across the Atlantic for the first World Cup in the States in 14 years. Although Armitstead only had four of the allowed six teammates, her small squad was mighty. Teammates included the recently crowed US national champion Megan Guarnier, two time Philly winner Evelyn Stevens and Luxembourgian national champion Christine Majerus. The four-rider squad saved their legs for the final two of six circuit laps that comprised the 117km race.
— Lizzie Armitstead (@L_ArmiTstead) June 7, 2015
“It was a real team effort today,” said Armitstead. “We have Megan, the new American champion, and Evie, two times winner here and both Americans. We really wanted to work for Evie, but it didn’t quite work out on the climb. I had to think on instinct and go for the win. It wasn’t exactly to plan, but at least one of us was on the top step of the podium.”
“The plan was for me to go for the win as well – up until the fifth lap,” Armitstead added. “I said to the girls that I wasn’t in the best shape to do it and Evie was riding around so easily, so we should go to Evie. In the final, it didn’t work out that way. We have to race on instinct. That’s what I was taught, and so that’s what I did.”
Hitec Products was undoubtedly the most aggressive team in the race. They chased and caught the sprint jersey with Kirsten Wild providing a world class lead-out for Emilie Moberg lap after lap.
Jasmin Glaesser (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies) earned the Queen of the Mountain jersey as a reward for her efforts in a solo breakaway, the longest escape of the race. She slipped away from the peloton over Lemon Hill on the second lap and managed to hold off the peloton until the third ascent of Manayunk.
While Boels-Dolmans stayed clear of the early action, they were attentive to each and every split in the peloton in the final two laps. When the peloton stretched or fractured, Boels-Dolmans had numbers – usually all four – near the front or on the right end of the split.
Alexis Ryan (UnitedHealthCare) led the peloton into Manayunk for the final ascent of the short but sharp climb. Keeping the pace high, presumably for teammate Coryn Rivera, Ryan hit the lower slopes with a slight gap over Joelle Numainville (Bigla) and Rivera.
Halfway up the approximately 800 metre ‘Wall’, Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies had riders on the front with Longo Borghini and Armitstead biding their time just behind. Around the final bend and into the 100 metre mark, Longo Borghini looked as if she had the race in the bag, but Armitstead out-kicked the Italian, passing her before the line. Amialiusik reached the top of Manayunk a bike length back on Longo Borghini to round out the podium.
“I’m happy with my second place,” Longo Borghini told Ella CyclingTips. “Of course, I wanted to win because I’m a racer but Lizzie was simply stronger and overtook me in the last 50 metres.”
Like Strade Bianche earlier in the year, Philly Cycling Classic had more than one winner. While Armitstead may have graced the top step of the podium, it was abundantly clear that the day was also a win for women’s cycling. The women’s field enjoyed equal prize money to their male counterparts, raced as the main event of the day with the men’s race as a curtain-raiser and featured on a live stream that was broadcast globally from start to finish.
“We were the stars, and it was such a nice feeling,” said Longo Borghini. “I enjoyed every second of the race. It was a top organisation and super cheering at the side of the road. I couldn’t be happier. I loved to see so many young people on the street cheering for us and having a party. It’s so cool.”