Having taken hold of the UCI Women’s World Tour leader’s jersey at the Tour of California last month, Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) celebrated by winning the next race in the series – the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic.
Guarnier approached the finish line solo, having built up a considerable margin on the final sprint up the daunting Manayunk Wall, after taking a lead out from her Canadian team mate Karol-Ann Canuel. Behind her were Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) in second and Alena Amialiusik (Canyon//SRAM) in third.
The American race is a favourite among the peloton – the women race in the ‘prime time’ slot, with the men’s event taking place beforehand, and the prize money is equal.
The 118km race consisted of six laps of a 20km course – each lap finishing atop the Manayunk Wall – which maxes out at 17 per cent on rough cobbles.
It was going to be an exciting one, with the peloton splintering early on as Lauren Stephens (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank), Anna Trevisi (Ale Cipollini) and Mieke Kröger (Canyon//SRAM) made a break for it.
As the break finished the first climb of the Manayunk Wall, Stephens claimed the first QOM. Mara Abbott (Wigle High5) – who won the QOM competition at the Tour of California – joined the break, but track and time trial specialist Mieke Kröger dropped from the group.
Abbott went on to better the break, taking the next set of points on the second trip up the climb, she was joined by Stephens on the descent and together the riders’ time gap grew to 40 seconds. On the third ascent, Abbott was still one better than Stephens, taking another set of points.
The gap began to sink, and by the fourth ascent of the legendary climb, the peloton was together. Despite working hard in a break of two, Abbott took both the fourth and fifth victories up the Manayunk Wall – clearly taking the win in the category.
The competition for the overall win began with the sound of the bell for the final lap. Allie Dragoo (Twenty16-Ridebiker) attempted a solo break – and managed to gather a 20 second lead. However, the chase was on and the field was eventually back together. A second attempt came from Jessica Parra (Colombia), joined by Amber Neben (Bepink) – but to no avail as the peloton was clearly incentivised to let nothing go.
As the peloton approached the final ascent of the Wall, Guanier placed herself behind Canuel, who sprinted up the ascent, allowing Guarnier to springboard from her wheel with metres to go.