Aleksandr Serebryakov won the TD Bank Philadelphia International Championship on Sunday. Serebryakov (Team Type 1-Sanofi) won the bunch sprint ahead of teammate Aldo Ino Ilesic and Fred Rodriguez (Exergy), second and third, respectively.
“This was my third race in America, and it was a victory on a great American team in a great American city,” said Serebryakov. “I can’t thank my teammates and the staff enough, everything worked today like clockwork.”
Team Type 1’s Kiel Reijnen took the King of the Wall classification for his efforts over the fabled Manayunk Wall, and his teammate, Daniele Colli, took fourth on the day.
It was, in a word, dominant. In fact, at the line it wasn’t clear which Team Type 1 rider would win; the purple and green jerseys walled off the bunch in the final meters.
“It was a pretty nervous finish, but it’s all about the teamwork today,” Serebryakov said.
Ilesic led the Russian out almost too well, nearly taking the win himself.
“When everybody went to the left, we went to the right,” said Ilesic. “It was the right thing, and that’s how we found ourselves at the front in the right spot.”
The win comes as an announcement to the U.S. peloton: Team Type 1 is capable of winning most races in the States.
“This is basically our first big start in the U.S.,” Serebryakov said. “I think it’s a good time for us.”
Vassili Davidenko, the team’s director, said it was an important win for the U.S.-registered Pro Continental team. The squad missed an invite to last month’s Amgen Tour of California and has raced very little in the U.S. this year. CEO and founder Phil Southerland was elated behind the podium, giving high fives and hugging those associated with the squad.
“I can’t complain,” Davidenko said. “And also the KOM jersey today. This is a podium that’s important.”
Exergy’s Fred Rodriguez took third in the sprint, getting close to another Philly win to go with his 2001 victory and three U.S. road championships won here.
“You always want to win,” Rodriguez said, a bit of disappointment lingering.
Exergy director Tad Hamilton said he was “disappointed, yet excited,” at the finish. There was hope that the result could land Rodriguez a spot on the Olympic team in London.
Rordiguez said the new distance made for an “easier” race.
“It’s still an amazing one-day race. Very tactical. It’s a sprinter’s race for sure,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a pure sprinter’s race now.”
Rodriguez was in position at the end, but couldn’t slip through the Team Type 1 wall.
“When they came by, they came by fast,” he said. “I picked the left side and came up against a wall of Team Type 1 guys.”
For the first time in the race’s history, organizers altered the distance, though the route stayed the same. The peloton had a hard time finding a groove, a sure metaphor for the race itself as it moves forward without co-founder Jerry Casale, who lost his battle with cancer in the spring, and finds itself without the glimmering fields of years past.
The race struggled to find its flow early. A break took more than an hour to establish, a nod to the shortened course and the different makeup of the field. Moves came and went, but UnitedHealthcare was among the squads glueing the race together early.
Several riders described the race as very aggressive from the start — it was clearly hard to get away, and the entire bunch was jumpy. Without a first division ProTeam in the lineup, it seemed that no one was willing to let any gap of note develop because there was a chance it couldn’t be brought back.
Once a break did take flight, it was after the first few laps through Manayunk, and it never ballooned to the normal 10 minutes Philly’s seen before. There was a major split of about 30 riders midway through, but the group was never given full range and never seized it, either. The day’s main escape consisted of just four men: Scott Zwizanski (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies), Andres Diaz (Exergy), Thomas Rabou (Competitive Cyclist) and Clinton Avery (Champion System).
UnitedHealthcare took the initiative about two-thirds of the way in, with the final of seven laps to go up the Manayunk Wall. UHC pressed the pace, though one of its main threats, Jake Keough, was in difficulty early on.
Once the field hit the five finishing circuits over Lemon Hill, the Manayunk Wall in its rearview mirror, the gap to the breakaway fell from 2:10 to 1:35 in about two minutes and soon Zwizanski was finished. For a race that was nervous from its onset, it appeared perfectly controlled in the end. With three short laps to go, the break had 1:15.
The field worked frantically on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to reel the escapees in. At the final lap bell, UnitedHealthcare went to the front again. Just two riders dangled off the front, and they were caught midway through the last finishing circuit. This running of Philly, like most, came down to a field sprint and there was no stopping Serebryakov and company.
Though it didn’t play a major factor in this year’s race, the Wall still made riders hurt and still drew thousands of fans to Manayunk.
One of the icons in American cycling, the climb is 800 meters long and ascends just 250 feet, but parts of it hit 17 percent. It’s too long to go all out from the bottom, too short to find any sort of rhythm. It’s just plain hard.
King of the Wall Reijnen summed it up best: “Your face and arms and fingers are tingling.”
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