Considered the most prestigious cycling race in the United States (and the Western Hemisphere), The Philadelphia International Cycling Classic has become one of the country’s best days for cyclists from all over. Despite name changes, rotating sponsorships, and changes to the overall route over the years, it continues to be one of the most entertaining cycling events around. Whether you find yourself at The Wall, Main Street, Kelly Drive, or Lemon Hill, there’s no lack of enthusiasm, fans, parties, and good times.
This year’s iteration of the race saw a change in tradition, with a flip in the order of the men’s and women’s races. For the first time since 2001 the women’s race was designated a World Cup Race by the UCI, putting the stakes higher and placing the women’s event as the main attraction later in the day, with the men’s race starting at an early 8AM sharp. Added to that, both fields saw changes in length of the race, with the men going nine laps for a total 173km and the women going six for 115km, but with equal payouts. A progressive and welcomed change to many racers, organizers, and fans.
This year the course followed a relatively newer (and some say much tougher) route, with racers starting at the top of The Wall in Manayunk, descending down into Kelly Drive, wrapping around Strawberry Mansion, climbing up and around Lemon Hill, then hitting a long and fast flat back on Kelly Drive to eventually tackle climbing The Wall’s infamous 17% grade to get to the finish line.
The men’s race saw many attacks, with few notable breakaways. The peloton stayed fairly tight, with the defending champion Kiel Reijnen of United Healthcare looking to take home his third consecutive first place podium spot in Philadelphia. That notion faded quickly late in the race, with the new and relatively unknown Caja Rural-Seguros RGA team holding off United’s attacks and pushing Carlos Barbero Cuesta forward to take first place, making the team’s debut in the United State’s especially notable.
By the time the women’s race got started the sun was high and the heat was on. Their race saw Jasmin Glaesser of Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies take off with a seemingly insurmountable lead going into the first 2-3 laps. But in the end she couldn’t keep it up and fell deep back in to the group, leaving the field wide open. The race wore on and as teams fought for positioning coming into the final turns before The Wall, Elizabeth Armitstead of the Boels Dolmans Cycling Team took control and was able to clinch a first place spot.
As with every year, the day was full of screaming fans, block parties, BBQs, bikes, beers, and good times. Check out some race day photos from Manayunk and Lemon Hill below. The final results of the Elite Men’s Race can be found here and the final results of the Elite Women’s Race can be found here.