The big dance as far as one day races in the US goes. There is nothing like being on the start line staring down the Ben Franklin Parkway with the national anthem playing getting ready to race 250km's, with the best racers in the US along with some of the best racers in the world. Specators were filling in the grand stands and starting to line the streets as Europe's "The Final Countdown" began to play under the cloudy and cool conditions of this years edition.
Ready, Set, Go! and we were off first to do 3 "parade" laps around 30mph before tackling the bulk of the races distance that consisted of a 10 lap loop which contained the Manyunk Wall. From what I saw it seemed the race was a bit less aggressive during the parade laps, and once entering the long loops, from the two previous years that I have done it. But like most races the attacks soon came, and once again unlike the previous years I have done would not stop till the very end.
The days first major break came after the second time up the wall. I had myself in decent position and found myself just behind the break in a group of 7 but in front of the main field. I tried following a few riders attempting to bridge, but not wanting to make the effort this early on in the race as it was the plan of the day, the rest of my group sat up and the group of 16 was up the road and the field was back together.
Now this is where the early break usually goes and the field sits up for a few laps before a team decides it has been long enough and its time to race, but this years edition was different, and I believe the next step in the race may have changed the course of events. The Rite Aid team went to front to start to bring back the break. We went to the front and were able to keep the gap at or under a minute before the next time up the wall. As we were climbing I felt my front tire going flat, darn. So I sat down and kept pressure off the front end and rode it to the top before getting a new wheel. So I chase back on and get back without to much problems, but as soon as I made contact, BAM! another front flat. What luck? And a rough morning as cycling news put it. So I chase and get back as Navigators had hit the front and decided they would bring back the break.
I moved up quickly as the pace had really picked up by the Navigators putting the pressure on to real in the early break before the 4th time up the Wall. You always know how far along the race is by the crowd and the smells. First of all the crowd gets bigger and bigger as the race goes on. Then the smell of alcohol and other substences fill the air as the crowd begins to get a bit wilder and wilder, but it seems like just before the final lap that its a bit quiter as they see a bit tired. Its pretty cool. Anyways not that the ealry break was back, it was once again time for another break.
Riders began to attack back and forth till more breaks would go, but teams who missed the breaks would quickly get to the front to bring it back. I followed a few moves then, and the following lap Stephen was up there doing a good job of following moves for a while. Clayton wtih a badly injured wrisk followed a move or two as well. We were putting in a good team effort today. More attacks went and on the 6th lap two Navigators got off the front on their own.
Then on the seventh time over the wall I found myself in a bit of a split and just like most laps before it more attacks went. Then I attacked and ended up opening up a bit of a gap as the field was closing. As soon as I got the gap was there the field sat up a bit and I was in pursuit of the two leaders heading into the 8th lap. I caught one of the Navigators rider who must have put in an earlier effort to help is teammate and after the 8th time over the wall only one rider was in front of me. As I was coming into the Strawberry Mansion area a small group had caught me and now I was working 5 others.
We hit the 9th lap not to far behind the lone leader, but on the other side not that far in front of the peloton. We were caught shortly after the feed zone and once again the counters went. I followed the first one, but that wasn't the one that went. Now a group of 11 was going up the rode with the race winding down. Slipstream didn't like the move and they quickly went to the front for the remainder of the lap and the following lap till bringing it back on the wall the 10th and final time.
This is where my race report will basically end. I didnt have good position going into the wall the last time most likely because I was to tired at this point to hold or get position, and there was a split in the field that never came back. I then rode around in the second group till the finish. Our guy for the day Alejandro of course made the front group and sprinted out for a tough fought 4th place. So all the work on the day put in by everyone had payed off. We had a solid team effort and probably the best of the year.
Thanks for reading,